WRC report says Walmart benefits from labor abuses in supply chain

In early June, guest workers at Walmart supplier CJ’s Seafood in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana went on strike to protest alleged forced labor, unpaid labor, and intimidation—including threatened violence—at their job. The workers report that their employer and supervisors “forced them to work up to 24‐hour shifts with no overtime pay, locked them in the plant, threatened them with beatings to make them work faster, and threatened violence against their families back in Mexico after workers contacted law enforcement out of desperation.”

The workers, Mexican nationals working at CJ’s under the H2-B guestworker visa program, went on strike, filed complaints with the Department of Labor, and sparked three federal investigations.

Meanwhile, the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights watchdog, issued a new report last week confirming the abuses at CJ’s Seafood. WRC executive director Scott Nova said, “Walmart, which undoubtedly benefits from the low production costs made possible by these abuses, did nothing to protect the rights of workers at this facility, despite long-standing public assurances that it is policing labor practices in its supply chain.”

CJ’s Seafood sells an estimated 85% of its crawfish—shelled and processed by guestworkers—to Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart. Walmart refused to meet with the guestworkers though, so they headed up to New York to take their concerns to two of Walmart’s board members. They brought a petition with 122,000 signatures with them and sought meetings with Michele Burns and Chris Williams, but were turned down.

Walmart has refused to meet with the striking guestworkers as did board members Burns and Williams, but the workers will be back. They plan to hold a 24-hour fast outside Michele Burns’ home in New York City on June 30, the same day that thousands are expected for a march and rally in Los Angeles to protest Walmart’s entry into the L.A. market.

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