ELWOOD, IL, September 20 — Workers at Wal-mart’s contractor Roadlink here have been on strike since September 15. Two days earlier they had filed a lawsuit for non-payment for all hours worked, for being paid less than the minimum wage and for non-payment of overtime they had worked. Several workers who sued were fired on the spot. This sparked the walkout.
The workers’ hellish conditions include enduring extreme temperatures, inhaling dust and chemical residue and being forced to lift thousands of boxes weighing up to 250 lbs each with no support. Their work-day can vary from two hours to 16 hours. Injuries are common as well as discrimination against women and retaliation against workers who protest these conditions.
This warehouse is a key Midwest distribution center for Wal-Mart. Six lawsuits have been filed against it for wage theft.
While a trillion dollars worth of goods passes through the Chicago region, the majority of warehouse workers are temps paid poverty wages; 25 percent need public assistance; 37 percent work more than one job; and 96 percent of temp workers have no health insurance.
Wal-Mart warehouse workers in southern California have also walked out protesting similar conditions after lawsuits were filed to stop mass firings.
It appears Wal-Mart’s exploitation is not exclusive to China. Capitalist oppression is worldwide.