By Doug Cunningham
Warehouse Workers at California Cartage staged a one day strike Wednesday protesting company retaliation for an earlier strike. More than 200 workers were told Monday they would be fired by the temporary staffing agency AMR/SSI. Cal Cartage uses that agency to staff its warehouse at the Port of Los Angeles.
Steven Hatch, a warehouse worker and member of the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, says warehouse workers have many issues they want improved.
[Steven Hatch]: "Low wages, working through a staffing agency for an extended number of years without ever being hired by the company. The staffing agency winds up taking probably forty percent of your wages right off the top. Working conditions that are unsafe and a certain amount of retaliation going on towards the workers by management."
Hatch says Cal Cartage is trying to intimidate workers at its warehouse from using their legal labor rights. That includes trying to instill fear into undocumented workers to keep them from uniting to improve their working conditions.
[Steven Hatch]: "The company had its supervisors call a meeting and tell the workers that weren't a part of the Warehouse Workers Resource Center that we didn't have the right to organize and that didn't have the right to wear our organizing t-shirts and vests, and that we were gonna get fired if we went on strike."
The 200 Cal Cartage workers fired by the temp agency are demanding they be re-hired as direct employees. Federal labor charges have been filed. The Teamsters are supporting the warehouse workers. Hatch says the goods movingthrough the Cal Cartage warehouse are from America's major retailers, and they share in the responsibility for the way these warehouse workers are being treated.
[Steven Hatch]: "This is a big import-export warehouse, and they're dealing with millions of dollars a month of product from all these retail stores in the United States. Target, Lowe's, Sears, K-Mart, Amazon.com. And they're just taking advantage of the Latino population, that probably, basically are unaware of their rights and have a a lot of fears about being discriminated against without any representation. All these workers qualify for public assistance in some form or another. And So why are all my, not all but some of my taxdollars going to prop up Cal Cartage?"