Another warehouse strike broke out over the weekend, this one near Joliet, Illinois, where a group of thirty workers walked out of a Walmart supplier’s building. The workers say that management suspended them after they presented a petition asking for a living wage and regular hours, and that it was this cold response that prompted the strike.
These men and women share complaints about unsafe conditions and broken equipment with the thirty Californians who recently walked out of their Walmart warehouse in the Inland Empire.
Image via Warehousework.org
The workers in Joliet also say they endure unpaid overtime and irregular work hours. Neither group is unionized, although both have the support of a union-affiliated organization - Warehouse Workers United in California and Warehouse Workers for Justice in Joliet. All sixty workers are officially employed by temp agencies, a status which affords them even less protection than other non-union workers.
Labor has been on the decline for decades, and it is obvious that some kind of paradigm shift is in order. The organization of a small, determined vanguard without regard to the union-status of the workplace itself may be the new way forward. If it is, then organizations like WWU and WWJ are leading the way and might just be the kinds of groups that can bring justice to the as-yet undefended employees of huge multinationals like Walmart.