Inland warehouse workers begin march to protest alleged workplace violations

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Inland Empire warehouse workers have begun a 50-mile march from Ontario to Los Angeles. The six-day pilgrimage is intended to expose alleged workplace abuses in warehouses.

About 100 workers and their supporters rallied outside the Ontario office of Warehouse Workers United before they headed out on their trek. The protestors plan to march along streets parallel to the 10 Freeway, the main artery that links the Ports of LA and Long Beach to the Inland warehouses.

After they got their marching orders, the protestors started off on the first leg of their trek: a 12-mile march to the Claremont School of Theology where they’ll stay the night.

The workers plan to arrive in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Guadalupe Palma, one of the march organizers, said the workers want warehouse management to provide the workers with basics in the workplace.

“Fans to combat the heat, ventilation, working equipment so they are not injured so often and even adequate access to clean drinking water,” said Palma.

The workers say they'll deliver a letter to WalMart officials requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns. WalMart is a frequent target of activists because state labor investigators have cited some of its Inland labor contractors for workplace health and safety violations.

About three-dozen employees at a Riverside area WalMart distribution center managed by NFI Industries walked off the job earlier this week over what they say are unsafe working conditions. NFI has not commented on the action.

David Garcia is among the striking workers who've committed to the march. “It was a hard decision for me because I got my kid, my house. But it was a decision that had to be made,” said “We’re all tired. We’re gonna get through this. And we’re gonna fight all the way.”

State Assemblywoman Norma Torres (D-Pomona) joined the marchers at the rally. She's carrying legislation that would require staffing agencies to document compliance with labor laws. Her bill would also require the agencies to keep enough money on hand to pay temporary workers what they’re owed.

“Every single one of these employers have to be held accountable for the injustices that are happening on our own backyard,” said Torres.

Warehouse industry officials say the Torres bill would create unnecessary regulations.