Walmart’s failed whitewash

What do you do when you’re the largest employer on the planet, and word gets out that you’re profiting from forced labor and exploitation?

Just ask Walmart.

In June, guestworkers exposed forced labor at Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood. In July, an NGA investigation turned up hundreds of labor violations at a dozen more Walmart suppliers. And now, Walmart-contracted warehouse workers in California and Illinois are on strike against brutal conditions and low pay.

Walmart’s response? Attempt a PR whitewash by sponsoring an “ethical sourcing forum,” as they did in DC. They failed to invite a single worker.

The workers came anyway.

NGA member Ana Rosa Diaz and Warehouse Workers United member Javier Rodriguez stunned the forum audience with stories of workplace abuse and exploitation—and told of their fight to end it.

The workers confronted Walmart VP of Ethical Sourcing Rajan Kamalanathan with a stack of 150,000 petition signatures demanding Walmart take responsibility for abuse on its supply chain.

Javier said: “All the people representing their organizations here at the forum told us, ‘We were hoping somebody would say the things you said. The workers were the ones who had to say it.’”

“We came here to speak the truth about what we experienced,” Ana said. “We’re speaking out so we can end the fear that so many workers feel.”

Walmart proved once again that it sees severe exploitation on its supply chain not as a problem to be solved, but as an embarrassment to be swept under the rug.

Ana and Javier proved again that we won’t let them get away with it.

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