Independent probe confirms forced labor at Walmart supplier: What’s next?

On June 20, 2012, the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent investigative agency, released findings of “systematic violations of labor law and grossly inhumane treatment” of H-2B guestworkers by a Walmart seafood supplier in Louisiana called C.J.’s Seafood.

Below is a statement by Saket Soni, Executive Director of the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA):

A week after Walmart attempted a cover-up of forced labor at its supplier C.J.’s Seafood, one of America’s top labor rights watchdogs has found conditions there that they say “rival any sweatshop in China or Bangladesh.”

Forced labor is unacceptable anywhere. But this is Louisiana, a two-hour flight from Walmart’s corporate headquarters. And this is a supplier than sells 85% of its product to Walmart—meaning Walmart is profiting from forced labor in America, and it’s keeping the perpetrator in business.

Walmart refused to meet with the workers who exposed the forced labor, so the workers came to Walmart. All day yesterday they sought meetings with Walmart board member Michelle Burns at her New York City offices. They delivered 122,000 petitions to her skyscraper penthouse. Today they sought a meeting with another Walmart board member Chris Williams, but were turned down again.

Now the workers are on their way to Washington, D.C., where they’ll tell members of Congress how Walmart is profiting from forced labor in Louisiana. They’ll bring copies of the Worker Rights Consortium report that confirms the depth of exploitation Walmart tried to cover up. They’ll tell how the man Walmart keeps in business forced them to for 15-24 hours straight, illegally underpaid them, threatened them and their families with violence, and then demanded that they take care of his children for free while he and his wife went to a casino.

Walmart claims to hold all its suppliers to the highest standards, all around the world. Now that we’ve seen how Walmart responds to forced labor in its own backyard, its big promises don’t even pass the laugh test.

CONTACT: Jacob Horwitz, NGA Lead Organizer, 504-452-9159, jacob@guestworkeralliance.org

 

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