Inland Empire warehouse workers file complaint over alleged unsafe working conditions

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Steven Cuevas/KPCC

Inland Empire warehouse workers and supporters stage rally in downtown San Bernardino to protest their working conditions.

Warehouse operations employ a lot of people in the Inland Empire, and now, some of them have filed a complaint with the state stating that they routinely work amid health and safety violations.

Workers and their supporters rallied outside the San Bernardino offices of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the agency nicknamed Cal OSHA.

They say employees at Inland warehouses often have to work with dangerous machinery in facilities with poor ventilation. When they report unsafe conditions, they say their bosses retaliate against them.

Through an interpreter, former warehouse clerk Anna Sanchez says her boss fired her when she took time off for a work-related injury.

"So I decided to join the Warehouse Workers United in order to able to help in educating, organizing other workers and for them to realize that we have rights and that we don’t have to say yes when the employers ask us to do things that go against our health," she said.

The activist Warehouse Workers United and UCLA’s Labor Occupational Safety program surveyed about 100 current and former Inland warehouse workers. More than 60 percent claim they’ve been injured on the job, yet many felt pressure to continue working.

Workers have filed a formal complaint with Cal OSHA to request a review of the Inland Empire warehouse industry.

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