Reese, Ellen, and Rudolph Bielitz.
In Igniting Justice and Progressive Power, pp. 294-311. Routledge, 2021.
This chapter provides a historical overview of the Warehouse Workers Resource Center (WWRC), a non-profit workers’ center. Since 2011, WWRC has empowered warehouse workers in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties through “education, advocacy, and action.” WWRC initially grew out of Change to Win’s Warehouse Workers United (WWU) campaign in Southern California that began in 2008 and has continued to empower Southern California warehouse workers even after Change to Win withdrew funding for WWU in 2014. Southern California warehouse workers, mostly Latinx, earn poverty level wages and are commonly hired through temporary agencies or as seasonal workers. Frequently pushed to work at rapid paces, warehouse workers suffer high rates of workplace injury, and many are subject to labor law violations, including wage theft and health and safety violations. With help from WWRC and its legal allies, warehouse workers filed a series of successful legal complaints against labor law violations within the industry, winning millions of dollars of employer penalties and back wages for workers. WWRC and its allies also won passage of several new state laws to better regulate the warehouse industry, including new indoor heat regulations. Highlighting WWRC’s role in grassroots leadership development, research and coalition building at the local, state, national and transnational levels, we provide an overview of its participation in organizing campaigns targeting Walmart, California Cartage/National Freight Industries and Amazon. Along with winning various improvements in working conditions for warehouse workers and important legal and legislative victories for warehouse workers, WWRC developed new worker leaders, raised public consciousness about the warehouse industry, and strengthened regional efforts to empower and build alliances among workers, immigrants, community residents and environmental activists in Southern California.
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