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Management at a Walmart-contracted warehouse in Indiana told workers to stay on the job even as the temperature plunged during the polar vortex deep freeze and the county government declared a state of emergency:
Linc labor strife escalated during a Sunday evening shift on January 5, after county officials declared a state of emergency due to extreme weather, ordering non-emergency vehicles off the road. Organizers say employees of Linc and its sub-contractors were working in temperatures of negative 15 degrees, as worsening weather meant mounting risks if they were required to stay until the scheduled late-night end of their shift.

[Linc employee Dion] Stammis told Salon that he and other employees repeatedly went to management that evening seeking permission to leave early, but were rebuffed. “We’re like, ‘What’s going on, the whole world is shutting down outside,’” said Stammis. “He’s like, ‘No, get back to work, we’ve got to work until we finish everything.’” [...]

After being repeatedly turned away, Stammis said, workers took up a more dramatic form of protest: “Basically we all stopped work.” Instead of moving goods, Stammis told Salon, nearly all of the dozen employees on site started looking up weather info on their cell phones as ammunition to collectively confront their boss. Seeing what was happening, Stammis said, their boss came over and told them to finish up certain tasks and then “get the hell out of here,” a few hours before the end of their scheduled shift. Management also shut down the warehouse all day on January 6.

Walmart has its predictable "the contractor employs the workers and makes the decisions" plausible deniability, but an organizer for the Warehouse Workers Organizing Committee told Salon's Josh Eidelson that the warehouse "had torpedo [gas] heaters before Wal-Mart got the contract," at which point the heaters were removed. And when terrible conditions are widespread in Walmart warehouses, no matter which logistics company or staffing agency directly employs the workers, you start to connect the dots and realize that Walmart is the common factor.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 02:25 PM PST.

Also republished by Hellraisers Journal, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Daily Kos.

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