A group of warehouse workers from the Inland Empire walked off the job this morning. They’re protesting alleged workplace violations at a large distribution center that does business with Wal-Mart.
NFI Industries - a warehousing and distribution firm that moves goods for Walmart - employs the striking workers. They say the firm denies them rest breaks, makes them work with faulty equipment and refuses them access to clean drinking water.
Speaking in Spanish, striking worker Javier Rodriguez says workers who don’t bring their own water have to drink filtered tap water from a restroom area.
Rodriguez joined about two-dozen other workers on the picket line outside the front gates of NFI Industries' sprawling Eastvale distribution center.
Earlier this summer, the activist group Warehouse Workers United filed a complaint over the alleged abuses with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
“The workers are asking for an end to the retaliation,” says Guadalupe Palma, the group’s deputy director.
She says workers are asking the company to ensure rest breaks and repair broken cargo ramps, push carts and other equipment.
“And they're willing to stay out until those problems are fixed,” says Palma.
An NFI representative did not return calls seeking comment. The protest coincides with a planned 6-day labor protest set to start this week. Warehouse workers and their supporters plan to march 50 miles from Ontario to Los Angeles. Organizers want to expose what they call continued workplace abuses at warehouses across the Inland Empire.