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The video below, Confessions of a Wal-Mart Hit Man, features a former general manager for the company speaking of the ways managers cheated workers out of wages they had earned, rigged a vote against a union in the company's Annapolis, Md., store, and how hard it was to eat in the staff lunchroom, where workers took their breaks with no food, because they couldn't afford to buy lunch. The video is a bonus scene from Robert Greenwald's documentary: Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. link
Yolanda Dickerson, who had worked in a warehouse for two years, says she “was sexually harassed on a regular basis,” recounting an incident of being locked in a trailer by male co-workers. After Dickerson reported the incident, she says management did nothing. WWJ says such reports are common.
Daniel Meadows, a striker who had been at the warehouse since January and in the industry for six years, felt similarly. As the crowd marched toward the warehouse gates, he explained the work’s effects.
“You literally can’t do anything after a shift,” he said, describing his work unloading 270-pound grills from trucks alone, by hand. “You’re so exhausted. In the summer, you’re soaked in sweat. In the winter, you’re freezing. You constantly have bruised shins,” from heavy carts with no brakes slamming into workers’ legs.
When the march arrived at the locked warehouse gates—usually the site of a constant stream of semis entering and leaving—community leaders and pastors in clerical collars and stoles sat down in the street in front of the silent warehouse. Two dozen police, clad in full riot gear from head to toe, preparing to move in to make the arrests.
Even more jarring, a black Humvee was idling behind them, equipped with what appeared to be a Long-Range Acoustic Device, a sonic weapon for crowd control. Military-grade policing equipment and cops who appeared prepared for hand-to-hand streetfighting were being used to clear the street of pastors and community leaders softly singing “We Shall Overcome.”
As police prepared to make the arrests, strikers pointed at riot officers’ legs and started a chant referencing the common warehouse problem of constantly bruised shins. “You’ve got shinguards! We want shinguards!” they chanted.
One by one, the 17 were handcuffed and taken away. They were released several hours later with misdemeanor citations.
Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ), a United Electrical Workers union (UE) affiliate, says brutal working conditions, wage theft, and management retaliation against organizing workers are rampant—and the big-box companies like Walmart who are supplied by these warehouses use the complicated layers of subcontracting to avoid responsibility for working conditions.