In a preliminary ruling yesterday, Federal District Court granted a motion to have Walmart listed as a defendant in a class action wage theft lawsuit. The suit alleges that warehouse workers (with Warehouse Workers United) were forced to work 12-16 hour days without overtime pay and with only a lunch break. The addition of Walmart as a defendant is a major victory for those working to hold Walmart accountable for abuses in its supply chain.
Walmart has long employed the tactic of distancing itself from the problematic treatment of workers in its supply and logistics chain by contracting and subcontracting labor. This outsourcing strategy has provided Walmart some shield for criticisms about the conditions in the factories that produce its goods, as well as the warehouses that store these products.
To this end, in a Southern California warehouse which exclusively moved Walmart goods, “workers were employed by staffing companies, which were subcontracted by the logistics company Schneider, which was hired by Walmart” according to a piece in The Nation.
While Walmart’s connections to the facility may be particularly evident in this case, the ruling is nonetheless a major advance in the struggle to hold Walmart accountable for the abhorrent work conditions from which it profits.