In Southern California, the explosion of “domestic outsourcing” has led to unfair and dangerous working conditions for nearly 85,000 warehouse workers. The current system features a work environment that is exploitative and unsafe. The use of contractors and sub contractors has lowered the quality of jobs and wages in the region with virtually no accountability.
Latinos are disproportionately affected by domestic outsourcing. The unloading and reloading of trucks, as well as the cramped facilities used to house goods, are well-known for unsavory working conditions and limited worker protections.
Warehouse Workers United is hoping to shed light on these workers’ struggles and explain to American consumers why they are able to get Wal-Mart goods so cheap with a new web series, “Voices from the Warehouse.” The series features the real stories of Latino workers in warehouses contracted by Wal-Mart and gives an unprecedented in-depth look into their workplaces.
The first episode of the series (below) follows Santos Castaneda as he talks about the dangers of driving a forklift in the tense and heated environment.
In every warehouse that I have been to it is the same situation, the same thing, the same hazards, the same safety violations.
Santos also talks about how warehouse workers risk their lives daily to ensure Walmart’s stores are stocked. In the warehouse, health and safety is not a priority. He says supervisors are there “to push you, to pressure you to get the job done.”
Santos’ story is just one of many. Over the next six weeks, you will have an opportunity to hear directly from other workers in their own voices about moving Walmart goods. Check out the first installment of the web series here.
Next time you see a deal that is too good to be true at Wal-Mart or another small town, big box shop, remember that the company can only offer you goods at that price because it mistreats workers like Santos Castaneda. It may be worth it to spend an extra nickel or dime once in a while to ensure Santos and other workers like him make it home to their families every night.