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Striking Warehouse Staff Call on Amazon for Better Pay and Conditions

BuzzFeed (09/23/15) Cora Lewis

Temporary workers at a major warehouse serving Amazon and other larger retailers at the Port of Los Angeles went on strike on Sept. 22 to protest unpaid wages and overtime, dangerous conditions, a lack of breaks and water during the summer months, and retaliation by management against their efforts to organize. The warehouse is operated by the distribution company California Cartage, which contracts with staffing firms to provide workers to load and unload containers and trucks.

While Amazon and the other retailers that contract with California Cartage have yet to be found legally responsible for conditions at the warehouse, the precedent now exists for a major corporation to be held accountable due to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board’s recent ruling in Browning-Ferris that expands the definition of “joint employer.” “This ruling [in Browning-Ferris] simply means that corporations that share control over operations cannot feign ignorance or disclaim responsibility for illegal acts,” says Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “Especially when those acts flow from the business model the lead company imposes.”