Chicago is a massive hub for warehouses and distribution centers handling goods for chains like Walmart, Home Depot, Target and more. Railroads and interstate highways come together there, making it a perfect location for, at this point, half a billion square feet of warehouse space, staffed by around 150,000 warehouse workers. As you might guess, those workers don't fare so well on wages, benefits, working conditions or general treatment. It's not like Walmart treats its own directly employed workers acceptably to begin with, let alone when it has the plausible deniability of the jobs being subcontracted. Then they rely on us to figure that abuses are all the subcontractor's fault, or just not to pay attention to abuses at some company we never heard of. Abuses like wage theft:
On November 19 the group Warehouse Workers for Justice helped workers file their fourth class action lawsuit since 2009 against companies that operate Walmart warehouses in the Chicago area.
This lawsuit charges that at least 18 workers at a warehouse in suburban Elwood realized once they were paid that they got less than promised and in fact less than minimum wage from the company Eclipse Advantage. This week workers marched to Eclipse offices demanding its billing and payment records so they can figure out exactly how much they are owed.
Workers were told they'd be paid $9.25 to $10 an hour, but many received less than minimum wage, like Roberto Gutierrez, who said "I worked twenty-one hours for Eclipse my first week and I was paid fifty-seven dollars for it… The company says I only worked twelve hours, but even by their logic I was still paid less than minimum wage."
While Walmart isn't named in the suit, the fact that the corporation is a common factor in so many wage theft suits points to its refusal to ensure that its subcontractors are behaving legally, and its likely complicity in their attempts to drive down wages and working conditions to eke out an extra few cents of profit on the backs of low-paid warehouse workers.