Sunday, January 31, 2016

24 hours at a time with no overtime pay

According to a recent front-page article in Bloomberg Magazine, Wal-Mart hired a defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to use military-grade cybersecurity techniques to monitor the social media accounts of labor organizers and Wal-Mart employees. Worse, on at least one occasion, the company’s global security team “began working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces” to counter worker protests.1
Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to enlist the FBI’s help to crack down on workers simply asking for dignity and respect. So we are joining our friends at OUR Walmart to demand that the Department of Justice investigate the FBI’s relationship with Wal-Mart and whether the agency or company broke any laws.
Wal-Mart jobs pay so little that some workers go hungry. Most face irregular hours that make it impossible to raise parents or plan ahead, and have few benefits or health care coverage. All Wal-Mart employees are asking for is higher pay, safe working conditions, dependable schedules, and respect in the workplace.2 This is not terrorism, and there is no way the FBI should be involved.
The Bloomberg report reveals an intentional and long-running effort on the part of Wal-Mart executives to monitor current and former employees who are involved with OUR Walmart. Wal-Mart organized a “Delta team” of executives tasked with cracking down, staffed up its labor hotline, and hired Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors in the world.3 Many of the employees monitored were later fired, potentially violating the law.4
In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Wal-Mart, claiming that the company violated labor law in 14 states by engaging in retaliation against workers who organized for better pay and better lives.5 The NLRB investigation turned up thousands of documents, some of which detail Wal-Mart’s hiring of Lockheed Martin – and its unacceptable coordination with the FBI.6
OUR Walmart has submitted a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation, and we need to show that hundreds of thousands of Americans stand with them.7
We do not know how often the FBI and Wal-Mart have teamed up. The documents unearthed by the NLRB also do not reveal the extent of FBI involvement in monitoring protesters who traveled by bus across the country to the retail behemoth’s Arkansas headquarters. It is also possible that Wal-Mart used information turned over by the FBI to illegally retaliate against employees.8
OUR Walmart and Wal-Mart workers have been at the forefront of the "Fight for $15" and their courageous stand has yielded results providing momentum for higher wages across the country. If the FBI’s anti-terrorism team is partnering with Wal-Mart, it may be working with other companies as well. We need to make sure the Justice Department doesn’t turn a blind eye any outrageous and dangerous abuse of authority targeting Wal-Mart workers.
Tell the Justice Department: Investigate reported FBI spying on Wal-Mart employees. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Susan Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce,” Bloomberg, November 24, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. OUR Walmart, "Letters to the Department of Justice,", January 14, 2016.
  5. Amanda Becker, “U.S. labor board alleges Wal-Mart violated labor law in 14 states,” Reuters, January 15, 2014.
  6. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”
  7. OUR Walmart, "Letters to the Department of Justice,", January 14, 2016.
  8. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”

Started by: Ana Rosa Diaz, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
My name is Ana Rosa Diaz. I'm 40 years old and I have four children. I came to the United States on an H-2B guestworker visa from my home in Tamaulipas, Mexico. I work in a small town in Louisiana with other guestworkers, peeling crawfish for a company called C.J.’s Seafood, which sells 85% of its products to Walmart.
Our boss forces us to work up to 24 hours at a time with no overtime pay. No matter how fast we work, they scream and curse at us to make us work faster. Our supervisor threatens to beat us with a shovel to stop us from taking breaks.
We live in trailers across from the boss's house, and we’re under surveillance all the time. The supervisors come into our trailers without warning, and they threaten to fire us if we leave after 9 p.m.
The supervisor also locked us in the plant so we couldn’t take breaks. One worker called 911. After that the boss rounded us up at 2:30 a.m., closed the door to keep the American employees out, and threatened our families.
He said, “As a friend I can be very good, but you don’t want to know me as an enemy. I have contacts with good people and bad people, and I know where all your families live. I can find you no matter where you hide.” We were terrified. 
We want to work. We need to support our families. But we also want to be treated like human beings.
We joined the National Guestworker Alliance and decided to go on strike. The boss refused to take back his threats against our families, so now we’re taking our demands to Walmart.
Walmart says it doesn't allow forced labor by any of its suppliers. But Walmart is profiting from the forced labor we lived through right here in Louisiana. And now they're trying to cover up what happened to us -- while refusing even to speak with us.
Walmart needs to meet with us immediately, and to show its suppliers that it won't tolerate forced labor. We’re demanding that Walmart:
1. Cancel its contract with C.J.’s Seafood to show that it won't profit from forced labor in Louisiana.
2. Sit down with us, the striking workers, immediately as a first step toward a real investigation -- rather than a cover-up.
3. Sign the NGA's Guestworker Dignity Standards to prevent forced labor and guarantee civil and labor rights for guestworkers across the Walmart supply chain. 
Please sign and stand with us!

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