Elwood, Il. - Striking workers picketed the Walmart distribution center here for the third day in a row this morning since they went on strike last Saturday to protest what they say are abusive conditions at the warehouse.
The strike came just days after workers in Southern California walked off the job to protest conditions at Walmart warehouses there.
"We are tired of retaliation and threats every time we speak up about working conditions and other abuses," said striker Eric Skolgud.
According to Lewis Guida, an organizer for Warehouse Workers for Justice who is involved with strike activities here, workers at the warehouse lift thousands of boxes that weigh up to 250 pounds each. Injury rates are high and frequently the contractor Walmart uses to run the Elwood warehouse, Schneider Logistics, fails to pay workers the wages they are owed, he said.
Ellwood workers threw up their picket line at the crack of dawn this morning and took it down just before 9 a.m. when they joined organizers at Warehouse Workers for Justice and travelled to Rosemont, Il., where Walmart has a corporate headquarters.
Guida said they brought with them 37,000 petition signatures, many of them collected online, demanding justice for Walmart workers
Elwood Workers intend to take their struggle to busy Walmart stores, he added. On Wednesday the Elwood strikers will descend on the new Walmart store on Monroe St. in Chicago for a day of "dramatic action" that organizers hope will win the strikers increased public support.
The Saturday walkout at the Elwood warehouse followed the filing of a lawsuit against Walmart's payroll service contractor Roadlink Workforce Solutions, alleging that workers hadn't been paid for all the hours they have worked, that they hadn't been paid for overtime and that in some cases they had been paid less than minimum wage.
Chris Williams, a Worlers Law Office attorney for the strikers said it was the sixth lawsuit by Elwood workers charging Walmart contractors with wage theft.
In California, contractors at Walmart warehouses have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for violations of workers' rights, and a federal judge has issued injunctions to protect workers, including an injunction to stop the mass firing of workers who had filed a wage theft lawsuit.
Workers are asking the public to sign a petition to Walmart executives, demanding that the company cease unfair treatment of its warehouse workers.
Photo: Workers face off against the injustices of Walmart. Facebook/Warehouse Workers for Justice