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Walmart warehouse workers protest dangerous working conditions

Walmart executives in California and across the country will soon be receiving a letter from warehouse employees complaining about the dangerous work environment at one of their warehouses.

Even before the letter is delivered, the workers, who are not governed by a union, have walked off the job and taken to the streets to protest working conditions at a warehouse in Mira Loma. They are hoping that a strong media reaction will help them plead for changes by the retail giant.

Walmart uses subcontractors to staff its warehouse facilities, which employs thousands of workers. According to a Walmart spokesman, these subcontractors are held to high standards. Walmart expects them to comply with the law, and not to place any of their workers in danger. Based on internal investigations of Walmart warehouses, Walmart believes that the warehouse workers either do not have legitimate claims, or if they do, those complaints have been addressed.

An underlying issue here is that it is obviously easier for these individuals to raise awareness by pointing the finger at Walmart, even though they are employed by various subcontractors.

This raises the question as to whether these individuals have a valid claim against Walmart, or are the real responsible parties their actual employers. In other words, does Walmart have a responsibility to employees of subcontractors that they have hired? If so, what is that responsibility? Does it stop when Walmart has ensured that the companies it hires are in compliance with safety regulations?

It is possible that Walmart may have some culpability if management has turned a blind eye to dangerous working conditions on their premises. As a result, this post is important for warehouse employers throughout California to ensure that work conditions on their premises meet health and safety regulations.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Walmart Warehouse Workers Pilgrimage For 50 Miles Over 6 Days To Protest Working Conditions," Kathleen Miles, Sept. 14, 2012

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