Warehouse workers are staging a two-day strike at a Riverside area distribution center - the latest action targeting a network of Inland Empire firms that handle warehousing and shipping needs for retail giant Wal-Mart.
It's the second time in recent months that warehouse workers and dozens of their supporters have staged protests outside NFI Industries in Mira Loma.
The workers aren't unionized, but are loosely organized by the advocacy group Warehouse Workers United.
They claim the company has denied some temporary workers rest breaks. They also say workers have to do their jobs with broken down equipment.
Strike organizer Guadalupe Palma says some workers who spoke out were dismissed or had their hours cut.
"Workers should not have to have to be retaliated (against); they should not be silenced for simply speaking out and demanding basic worker protections,” Palma said at the morning rally.
"Water, ventilation, safety equipment and respect. (Workers) should not be silenced," said Palma.
NFI spokeswoman Kathleen Hessert said the company’s workload determines if and when it reduces the hours of temporary employees. She also said NFI workers always have access to free water and Gatorade.
“If they felt they were not being heard there are so many ways they could (address that),” said Hessert. "The company president’s name and contact information has been posted within that facility so they could go to him directly. This company truly does go overboard to provide a good and safe work environment."
Members of Warehouse Workers United dressed in matching blue T-shirts far outnumbered actual workers on the picket line.
Six people - none of them NFI workers - linked arms and sat in the roadway to block a parade of diesel trucks from entering the facility. After several warnings, Riverside County Sheriff's deputies moved in, handcuffed the protestors, and marched them into a waiting van.
Strike organizers are calling on Wal-Mart to enforce higher workplace standards on its contractors. Wal-Mart maintains the allegations of poor working conditions are unfounded or have been addressed.