On February 24, I was going to lose my job. My name is Daniel Lopez, and I work in a warehouse in Mira Loma, CA, moving goods for Walmart day in and day out. With what I am paid for unloading hundred pound boxes from containers in the broiling heat, I support my four young children, two daughters and two sons. I work extremely long hours, usually six days a week, yet still is paid only poverty wages for this grueling work. I has no holidays, sick days, or health insurance.
In September 2011, my co-workers and I filed a Federal lawsuit against the operator of his warehouse for not paying them enough to meet the minimum requirements of U.S. wage laws, including not paying the minimum wage for all hours worked and not paying overtime compensation. In this lawsuit, we offer detailed accounts of how we received zero compensation for many hours worked, were denied breaks despite dangerous heat and long hours, and received zero overtime compensation despite working seven-day weeks and 16-hour and longer work days during high season. At the same time that we filed this lawsuit, the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (the California Department of Labor) conducted an inspection of the facility, resulting in more than $600,000 in citations for recordkeeping violations alone. My coworkers and I talked to the government investigators during the inspection. Soon after, we were threatened, harassed, and finally told all 70 of them would be losing their jobs on February 24. For standing up for their basic rights, we were being rewarded with a pink slip.
Walmart moves millions of tons of goods through a vast network of warehouses hidden away on the outskirts of cities throughout the U.S. Warehouse workers do backbreaking work often for less than the minimum wage, typically with no overtime pay at all (despite very long hours), and often contracted through “temporary” labor agencies (although the workers are anything but temporary – as many work for the same facilities for years).
Walmart should solve this problem by adopting a Responsible Contractor Policy that would obligate the contractors it does business with to observe certain standards that protect workers. We demand that Walmart, the largest employer in the U.S., ensure that warehouse workers who move Walmart goods are paid a living wage, make sure they have safe, steady full-time jobs with benefits, and guarantee their legal rights are respected.
I am standing up for my rights so I can take care of my kids. Please stand with me.