Workers at a Walmart supplier’s warehouse in Elwood, Illinois are claiming victory today, after a wildcat walkout against victimisation for protests against their horrific working conditions. Below I repost the statement from the Warehouse Workers for Justice group, but there is much controversy over their affiliations and objectives, which is the focus of a thread on LibCom. Still, with parallel strikes amongst Walmart retail workers taking place yesterday, the first serious attempts at worker organisation in the history of the supermarket giant are certainly a significant development in the United States and international class struggle:
“In an historic victory, all striking Roadlink workers at Walmart’s Elwood warehouse have won their principal demand for an end to illegal retaliation against workers protesting poor conditions. They will return to work with their full pay while they were out on strike. Workers will return to work and continue the fight for safe working conditions, fair pay for all hours worked and an end to discrimination.
“During the 21 day strike, strikers have received a tremendous outpouring of support. On Oct. 1st strikers and their supporters succeeded in shutting down Walmart’s largest distribution center in North America, while clergy, community and labor leaders blocked the road leading out of the warehouse to support workers on strike at the Walmart warehouse in Elwood, near Joliet. The rally brought Walmart’s distribution system into the public eye to protest unfair labor practices and other abuses in the nation’s largest inland port. On Oct. 5th, Walmart received a letter from over 100,000 supporters of striking workers at the Walmart warehouse demanding Walmart take responsibility for what is happening in their warehouse.
“Striking Roadlink worker Ted Ledwa said, “With this victory, we forced the company to respect our rights. We showed that when workers are united we can stand up to the biggest corporations in the world and win”.
“Warehouse workers labor under extreme temperatures, lifting thousands of boxes that can weigh up to 250lbs each. Workplace injuries are common; workers rarely earn a living wage or have any benefits.
“Warehouse Workers for Justice is an Illinois worker center dedicated to fighting for quality jobs in the distribution industry that can sustain families and communities. The strikers are members of the Warehouse Worker Organizing Committee.”