Workers, State Officials Allege Labor Abuses At Calif. Warehouse Complex

labor abuse warehouse WalmartWorkers at a massive warehouse complex in Southern California are claiming that they were shorted wages and routinely subjected to workplace indignities, among other labor abuses, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles.

The workers are employed at three large warehouses at a complex in Riverside County, southeast of L.A., where brand-name goods shipped to nearby ports from Southeast Asia are sorted for distribution to Walmart stores throughout the U.S.

The lawsuit, brought by Jorge Soto and dozens of other warehouse workers, alleges that Schneider National Inc., which operates the warehouses, and two staffing companies routinely engaged in fraudulent pay practices that resulted in employees earning far less than the state-mandated $8-an-hour minimum wage, according to a report by FairWarning, a nonprofit news site that covers safety and health issues.

In an interview with FairWarning, Soto, a 47-year-old native of Mexico, said management ordered him to falsify time sheets, reducing workers' earnings to as little as $3 or $4 an hour. "They wanted to wash their hands of it through me," said Soto, who worked as a lead crew member.

Investigations by state labor officials into the companies' actions so far have led to proposed fines of nearly $1.4 million.

As the report notes, the warehouses help bring low-cost goods to consumers. But constant pressure to hold down costs results in jobs with low wages and few if any benefits. Such unskilled jobs are often filled by Latino immigrants.

The suit alleges that the companies used an opaque system, based on the number of semi-truck containers loaded and unloaded, for calculating wages that resulted in workers not knowing exactly how much they earned.

Among other complaints listed in the lawsuit, filed in October, FairWarning notes these in its report:

  • Crew leaders such as Soto were under orders at some warehouses to force workers to sign blank time sheets, a tactic that made it easier to cheat employees out of their rightful pay.
  • Workers often were paid only for the time they spent loading and unloading trucks -- not for the time they put in sweeping warehouses, labeling and restacking boxes or waiting to find out if they would be assigned work.
  • High heat in the warehouses and constant pressure for speed created safety problems, triggering an investigation by state labor officials that resulted in the issuance of more than 60 workplace safety violations and $256,445 in potential penalties.
  • Many workers, classified as temporaries despite years of service, said they were threatened with being blackballed and never being hired again if they raised questions about their pay or took part in protest or unionizing efforts.

Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, wasn't named in the lawsuit, though the warehouses in question are operated solely on its behalf, according to FairWarning. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company didn't respond to calls or emails seeking comment.

Though the lawsuit is still in early stages, FairWarning notes that the action already has had an impact. The court has required the companies to provide workers with itemized wage statements and return them to an hourly pay system.

The companies nonetheless continue to dispute the lawsuit's allegations.


Next: Restaurant Workers Group Targets Darden In Race-Discrimination Lawsuit



Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now


Stories from AskMen

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

21 Comments

Filter by:
victorzeller

When company's like this HIRE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS they can do whatever they want to them. If real AMERICANS were working there none of this would have happened.

March 06 2012 at 12:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
JimB

THEY ARE ILLEGALLY IN THE U.S.A. AND THEIR CLAIMS SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN TO HEART ..... DEPORT THEM AND PUT TRUE CITIZENS OF THE U.S.A. TO WORK .....

March 05 2012 at 11:15 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
wsabreena1

Walmart has done it again. They get by with so many illegal things its unbeleivable. There was a similar lawsuit in this area. In my 8 month search for a job I have not been into Walmart to apply, and will not apply at a Walmart, and do not shop at Walmart.

March 05 2012 at 11:00 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dbloom69

How bigoted and shamefull your comments are!!!. Nowhere in this artical says that these are illegals. For all you know they can be fully American citizans. HBut because they are Latinos you feel that it's OK to discriminaate. How RUDE!!

Now for the real reason I'm responding. The American people are forgetting the reason unions were started. It was for the protection and safety of the American workers. Now our republican party is making out that unions are just put for bankrupting american business and are trying to make unions obsolete. Be careful. BIG BUSINESS CARES ONLY FOR THE BOTTOMLINE; NOT THE EMPLOYEES

March 05 2012 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dbloom69's comment
JimB

READ BETWEEN THE LINES ..... THEY ARE FROM MEXICO .....

March 05 2012 at 11:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
hello pat

these companies to be hammered. Is any one a us citizen that work here

March 05 2012 at 9:44 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
psridgell

Whenefver I don't like a job, I quit and go somewhere else, instead of whining like a little girl, Soto, Go back to Mexico !

March 05 2012 at 9:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
slop9124

Seems like every time you read an article where the workers or consumers are screwed over, Wal Mart in somewhere in there. I think that if Wal Mart cared about there image, they would find somebody else to handle the distribution of their goods from ASIA!!!!!!!!

March 05 2012 at 8:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to slop9124's comment
victorzeller

You are right. I am sure the Chinese would have done the job for a lot less.

March 06 2012 at 12:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GaIaxyGlitz

NOTICE that this article conveniently left out whether the workers were ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

They get what they give in my opinion. Go HOME if YOU do not like being exploited as you exploit AMERICA for all you can get from the welfare, medical community and education.

AND OH YEAH: LEARN ENGLISH!

Hahaha

March 05 2012 at 8:38 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
BIG KELL

I worked for Schnieder back in '02. We worked for a subsidiary. You would have thought our location was populated by Martians for all they cared about us. They had a profit sharing plan for the company at their national headquarters, that they would not let us participate in because our location was losing money. The location was losing money when they acquired us, and did nothing to change it. Plus they provided crappy health care insurance coverage, but would not let us participate in their coverage at their national headquarters in Green Bay. All in all, and inept operation.

March 05 2012 at 8:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
melvinalpha1

all of the staffing companys are responsable for this,and belive me they know
whats going with the companys they send these people to,not to mention they
push through illegal i-9 papers.

March 05 2012 at 7:19 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

Week of Nov 9 - Nov 16
View All

Featured Writers

Meet the team

Picks From the Web