Last week, USAS members Cynthia Chavez and Adriana Cruz joined Walmart warehouse workers on a 50-mile pilgrimage from Ontario, California to Downtown Los Angeles. This is their story.
By Cynthia Chavez, student at the University of California, Riverside
Last week we marched 50 miles to raise awareness about Walmart’s grave human rights violations and the terrible working conditions in their warehouses. As members of United Students Against Sweatshops, we believe it is incredibly important to support workers in their fight for respect and fair wages. Throughout the march, the workers shared with us their stories of struggling to make ends meet, and how they faced blatant disrespect in the warehouse.
As we entered East Los Angeles, my hometown, we felt pain for the workers who had become our family over the past week. But more than anything, we felt hope and pride. Throughout this journey we gained momentum, and the longer we marched, the louder we chanted.
Throughout the march we learned that every year hundreds of millions of tons of goods enter the US through our nation’s busiest ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles. Trucks carry containers through the Los Angeles basin to the Inland Empire, where roughly 85,000 warehouse workers, mostly Latino, unpack and reload items onto trucks destined for major retailers like Walmart. Workers in these warehouses face dangerous working conditions, often working in 120 degree weather with little ventilation. In addition to dehydration and limited access to water, many workers are injured due to broken and damaged equipment and a lack of appropriate training.
Walmart is one of the wealthiest and largest corporations in the world, and brings in record profits every year. Right now workers are asking for their basic human rights: safe working conditions, living wages, and fair treatment. It’s time for Walmart to take responsibility for their contractors, and adopt a policy protecting and enforcing basic human needs for warehouse workers!
I want students all over the country to see how courageous these workers have been, and for everyone to take inspiration from what they’ve accomplished. As a USASer, I will stand in solidarity with these workers until the end, “hasta la victoria!” I believe student and worker power makes the movement stronger, and that together we can make real CHANGE! If you’re also inspired by the courage of Walmart warehouse workers, please donate to the workers’ relief fund so workers can stay in their homes and provide for their families.
Visit warehouseworkersunited.org to learn about the workers struggle and spread the word!