Walmart Ditches C.J.’s Seafood
July 2, 2012 11:05 am
In recent weeks, Unionosity has reported on the deplorable conditions at Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood. An in-depth report on conditions at C.J.’s, further investigation on violations by similar suppliers and a 130,000 strong Change to Win petition forced Walmart to announce they will be suspending business with C.J.’s, and in a victory for labor activists, representative for Walmart announced Friday that the company will sever ties with the Louisiana supplier, saying that they “have suspended C. J.’s Seafood as a supplier, pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The National Guestworker Alliance asked the Workers Rights Consortium to investigate C.J.’s., and the resulting 37-page report portrays a hotbed of worker abuse and intimidation, with workers being given one 30 minute break during a 16 hour shift, supervisors threatening the families of guestworkers, 24 hour shifts with no paid overtime, and employee lock-ins forcing continuous labor.
Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Workers Rights Consortium says: “It’s one of the worst workplaces we ever encountered anywhere. The extreme lengths of the shifts people were required to work, the employer’s brazenness in violating wage laws, the extent of the psychological abuse the workers faced and the threats of violence against their families — that combination made it one of the most egregious workplaces we’ve examined, whether here or overseas.”
The June 20th Workers Rights Consortium report on C.J.’s Seafood led the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) to perform a preliminary audit on similar suppliers. On Friday, the NGA released a list detailing 644 federal citations against similar Walmart suppliers. Many of the citations deal with OSHA violations, yet the report also documents civil suits revealing a litany of wage and hour violations.
Walmart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez attempted to discredit the data presented by the Guestworker Alliance, saying: “This report, crafted by a union-funded, union-backed group, has little to do with solving real issues….We work with more than 60,000 suppliers in the U.S., and we have rigorous standards in place that our suppliers are required to follow.”
In massaging their response to the forced labor allegations, Walmart inadvertently gets to the heart of the problem: As the country’s largest private employer, Walmart has the opportunity to drive supplier policy, but this golden opportunity is squandered by their myopic attention to the bottom-line. Walmart’s profit by any means model necessitates a culture of worker abuse.
Photo from here