Wal-Mart Accused of Exploiting Immigrants

Wal-Mart is in the news again for its employment practices, and it should come as no surprise that the retail giant is accused exploiting immigrant workers.  This time a group of janitors are looking to sue the retail giant for wage and hour violations.  The suit seeks certification of a class of immigrant janitors who are or have been employed at Wal-Mart stores in the United States and includes a subclass of members who were falsely imprisoned or otherwise confined by the company’s alleged practice of locking employees inside stores while they worked.  Potential claims include violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act.

This is actually a second crack at class certification for the janitors.  Their previous attempts were denied when a federal judge ruled that they had failed to show a uniformity among members since their work schedules, payroll and tax withholdings were all different. 

The heart of the allegations also touch on the controversial issue of using immigrant labor.  The plaintiffs maintain that Wal-Mart conspired with various other companies to avoid its responsibilities under the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act to verify work eligibility and that the company created the equivalent of a contractor system to save money by hiring undocumented workers and then exploiting them.

Wal-Mart denies the charges and, like previous employment battles, has chosen to fight back hard.  They have already settled federal criminal charges stemming from workplace raids but deny these allegations outright.

Is it simply too much to ask employers to treat their employees humanely and to follow the law?  If you are Wal-Mart the answer apparently yes.

photo courtesy of monochrome via Flickr

89 comments

monica r.
monica r6 years ago

Well, oddly enough, I come on Care2, and alongside a blog post decrying WalMart's treatment of employees, is an ad for WalMart ("ads keep Care2 free").

Do the Care2 standards of decency stop when the offending corp hands you money? Does the sponsor know how much WalMart bashing goes on at Care2?

Wierd.

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Jaime Torquemada
Jaime Torquemada6 years ago

What Chinese have to do with the topic, we are not in china and who cares about china unless your wife or husband is Chinese, The argument that is worse in "other places" well is worst in HELL too. It is an stupid argument and so I think we help Chinese millionaires already in this country when we buy ANY product made in CHINA.
Hypocrites and I give this argument to all my republican friends that "LOVE" this country always waving the flag, etc. Ask these sobs what kind of care they are driving, Toyota? Subaru? etc.
Walmart has always exploited the under employed, the poor that will work for whatever wage is offer to them. I do not see to many " African Americans working there, but I see many Africans and I can tell who they are for their RUDNESS and lack of customer care.
At any rate any one working for Walmart or other stores such like has to be commended for WORKING, such an adventure that many NATIVE Americans refuse to work and rather draw a welfare check for the simple fact to be born in American soil.

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Michael Cunningham

"I like your catch-22 theory, but if corporations are truly seeking the best, why would Home Depot pay GE flunkie Bob Nardelli so much, then give him >$200M as a severance when he botched the job? They why would Chrysler hire him after that? Having just pocketed >$200M for screwing up, why would he even want to work? ;^) "

That is why it is a "Catch-22". It takes on a life of its own and defies logic!

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Michael Cunningham

"A lot of these “labor camp” factories work 6-12 hour shifts, 72 hours a week. Mostly young girls, many underage, are hired and they are pretty much walled in. "

The real point is that there is no substantial evidence to support this information. Can it exist? Sure! Just like it exists here in the US. But the vast majority follow the rules. Hell I know people working for the USPS in a $35,000 job that was earning $100,000 per year! Think he did that on 40 hours a week? Just for your edification the USPS treats a large part of it workforce like they are serfs!! BTDT!

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Michael Cunningham

" Hello,




Lika left a comment on the following article:




Wal-Mart Accused of Exploiting Immigrants


@Michael Cunningham - is that a real question? Have we been to Mexico? It doesn't matter, okay, people in refugee camps in Laos have it much worse than any Mexican area. The US along with American people are experiencing an economic crisis, and you're feeling bad for illegal immigrants?"

If that is supposed to be a quote from me, it isn't. If it is not meant to be a quote, there is no reference point for evaluation.

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Vince D.
Vince D6 years ago

Hi Michael,

I like your catch-22 theory, but if corporations are truly seeking the best, why would Home Depot pay GE flunkie Bob Nardelli so much, then give him >$200M as a severance when he botched the job? They why would Chrysler hire him after that? Having just pocketed >$200M for screwing up, why would he even want to work? ;^)

Does anyone else get paid more just befcause the other guy got more? OK, athletes....

There is that "old boys network" where members of "the club" sit on the compensation committees and give each other raises. It is very incestuous.

Perhaps we should bring in some H1B visa holding Indian CEO types to drive down these outrageous salaries? ;^)

Seriously, these folks need to be brought down a few pegs.

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Vince D.
Vince D6 years ago

Hi Michael,

A lot of these “labor camp” factories work 6-12 hour shifts, 72 hours a week. Mostly young girls, many underage, are hired and they are pretty much walled in.

OK, let’s say for argument that they do get paid RMB960. That’s about $143 PER MONTH, or about 50 cents per hour. I stand corrected! They are then billed for room and board so the amount that they actually take home more like the 25c/hr. As I said before, virtual slavery.

Also, you are quoting “official” Chinese policies, what actually happens can be quite different.

The poverty line comparison lacks substance. What/who determines that line? We saw lots of poverty (by American standards) when we visited. Something doesn’t add up there, I suspect the bar is MUCH lower.

Of course, this benefits the corporations and their CEO’s, the rich Chinese factory owners and crooked politicians. As usual the workers lose, on both sides of the ocean.

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Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

@Michael Cunningham - is that a real question? Have we been to Mexico? It doesn't matter, okay, people in refugee camps in Laos have it much worse than any Mexican area. The US along with American people are experiencing an economic crisis, and you're feeling bad for illegal immigrants?

On the topic: Walmart started off spouting that they're owned by employees. Because staff were considered part of the team, I was all for the idea because it empowers even the lowliest of workers.

But Walmart means cheap, as in inexpensive. When you don't have much money, and you need a lot of stuff, you go there because you get the bulk rate w/o having to buy the whole case, which is a Godsend when you're in poverty. Yes, we do exist here in the USA.

It's a double edged sword, you get rid of Walmart, you get rid of the inexpensive prices and even more people go w/o jobs. With nothing to replace it, more jobs go to China to get cheaper labor while taxes go up to support more of us. So we need to figure that we hire more people first, and then hope we can survive the price hikes.

Or maybe put a price cap on for the time being for people to recover from the economic strife.

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Michael Cunningham

"circle-jerk of them all sitting on each other's boards, the salaries would not be nearly so outrageous."

I would suggest that the outrageous salaries are a result of a modern "Catch-22".
It goes something like this: "To get the best person for the job we have to pay more than the 'other' guys, but then the 'other' guys will just pay more. Since at that level the pool of applicants is rather small this must be the circle jerk to which you refer. Job is filled @ $100k. To get the best we pay $150k, they pay $200k, we pay $300k. And it goes on from there. Pretty soon we are talking real money!!

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Michael Cunningham

"The Chinese are getting paid about 25 cents an hour and the factories are mre like labor camps."

But the question was "based on who's opinion".
"BEIJING, Jan. 29 – Local governments will raise minimum wage levels as soon as next month from 10 to 12 percent given the recovering economy and rising inflation.

Beginning next month, Jiangsu Province will increase minimum wage levels from RMB850 to RMB960, the same level Shanghai and Hangzhou. Beijing will soon follow suit with a 10 percent increase in minimum wages to RMB880 per month by April 1 reports The Global Times." (more info available @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_law#People.27s_Republic_of_China)
"In China, the working week begins on Monday and ends on Friday. China began the two-day weekend in 1995. Most workers work 5 days a week (including officials and most industries). Normally, the Chinese consider the week beginning with Monday and ending with Sunday. However, most shops as well as the museums and cinemas are open on Saturday and Sunday. Commercial establishments are generally open throughout the weekend." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workweek#China)
April 2010 US unemployment 9.5% , China 4% ; Population living below the poverty line US 13%; China 2.8% (http://www.billshrink.com/blog/8482/the-us-vs-china-economies-head-to-head/)
I can't locate the reference for work hours. But official work hours are 40 per week. Fits with the above reference of a two day weekend.

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