Business & Economy

Warehouse workers protest impending layoffs at Walmart distribution center

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, in Chicago, IL. In October, Walmart issued a
The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, in Chicago, IL. In October, Walmart issued a "Request for Information," seeking partners to help expand its health care offerings.
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Warehouse workers and their supporters rallied Wednesday outside a Walmart distribution center near Riverside. They’re trying to stop dozens of potential layoffs which they say are retaliation against employees who’ve spoken out against alleged workplace and wage violations.

The action targeted Schneider Logistics and Rogers Premier Warehousing. The former company operates the distribution center; the latter is a hiring firm that supplies about 100 workers to Schneider. All those employees could be out of a job by the end of next month.

A Rogers worker named Jose Tejeda, speaking in Spanish, told reporters that he’s worked at Schneider for about eight months. He said the layoff announcement follows workers’ complaints over pay and working conditions.

Tejeda added that things got a little better after California labor inspectors slapped Rogers Premier with $600,000 in fines last November after it had failed to provide itemized wage statements and other violations.

"We believe that they’re terminating workers in retaliation for all the actions they’ve taken to ask for at least minimum wage, to recuperate their stolen wages," said Guadalupe Palma, regional director of Warehouse Workers United, an organization that advocates on behalf of warehouse employees.

"And also because they cooperated with the labor commissioner in the in the investigation that resulted in fines against Walmart subcontractors," Palma said.

A representative for North Carolina-based Rogers Premier could not be reached for comment about the pending layoffs.

Schneider Logistics confirmed that Rogers did sever its employee contract with the Mira Loma distribution center, as well as Schneider warehousing sites in Georgia and Illinois.

Both firms are also the target of a class action lawsuit filed by current and former employees from the Mira Loma distribution center. The plaintiff’s attorneys expect to ask the judge in that case to block next month’s layoffs at the Schneider facility.