(Note from Warehouse Workers United: Please take action now — workers like Javier, whose blog appears below, should not be fired with impunity. We will deliver this petition to Walmart today, April 29, 1 p.m., PDT.)
One month ago my son Alex was born. Yesterday I was fired from my job as a forklift driver at a warehouse where we move 100 percent Walmart merchandise.
I am outspoken. I defend my coworkers. I alert management about broken and unsafe equipment. I teach my coworkers about their rights, like what minimum wage is and what they should do when they are injured on the job.
I have been a target of management for a while. They watch everything I do, but it’s not my nature to be silent or scared. I know when I am right. Last year I went on strike to protest the retaliation my coworkers experienced when they spoke to the media and the public about the dirty water (if we had any water at all) that we were given to drink,
Walmart might have viewed their plans to open in an existing building in Los Angeles Chinatown as a bullet-proof strategy. The retail giant would open its new store in the Grand Plaza, an existing building, that unlike new construction, would allow the retailer to proceed without a public hearing.
As the company worked on its renovation plans, which started last year, Aiha Nguyen at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and community members dug through reams of city documents.
They realized the retailer and city officials needed something central to the democratic process — a public hearing for neighborhood residents to provide feedback about the store in the Grand Plaza building.
The Grand Plaza had received about $7 million in subsidies years ago, Nguyen said, adding that a hearing and environmental requirements from a city-approved Chinatown Redevelopment Plan still apply to any new tenant.
That requirement is serving as the basis for the April 4 lawsuit that could block Walmart from opening in 30,000 square feet of space in the downtown area.
The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and other community groups took legal action against the proposed Chinatown Walmart today by filing a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles. The lawsuit challenges the process by which the building permits were issued.
The plaintiffs allege that the Department of Building and Safety violated city and state laws which require public approval of the permits by the Community Redevelopment Agency/LA board. Eighty Chinatown residents, Walmart workers and community activists rallied the same day to adopt principles for all development in Chinatown and demand that the community’s voice be heard.
The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, with the support of LAANE and Chinatown small businesses, filed multiple appeals against the permits when the store was first proposed in February 2012. The appeals asserted that the permits received inadequate review and were erroneously issued,
For a list of today’s Walmart protest actions, see our Guide to Black Friday Strikes.
Talk about your perfect storm. Walmart, which in recent years has been raising the danger level for shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, has now created a new attractive nuisance that’s being called Gray Thursday. This is when Walmart stores open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, ostensibly to alleviate security and safety pressures on Black Friday, the traditional pre-dawn running of the bulls – er, shoppers – down the stores’ aisles in search of cut-rate prices.
The safety rationale of opening a store six or eight hours ahead of Black Friday is highly debatable; what’s not disputed is that Walmart is ordering in armies of its underpaid employees to work on a night they have traditionally enjoyed as a holiday. But the only tradition this company respects is that of making money on the backs of its mistreated “associates” – workers who are only able to live paycheck to paycheck with the help of food stamps and other government-provided poverty entitlements.