By Christian Guzman, Editorial Intern
California Cartage Co. warehouse workers participated in a one-day strike against the company on April 6, protesting the terms of their employment as well as recently issued notices that they will soon be unemployed.
Although many of the strikers have been working in the California Cartage Co. warehouse for more than five years, technically, they aren’t employees of the company at all. A staffing agency called Associate Management Resources Inc., provides the workers to California Cartage Co.
“We are on strike because the company keeps violating our rights and breaking the law,” said Victor Gonzales, a warehouse worker. “Cal Cartage is trying to remove us—I’ve been here for seven years through a temp agency….We need to create permanent jobs for [us].”
California Cartage Co. does not plan to hire the workers permanently. Furthermore, the company has notified the workers that on April 30 the company will no longer be doing business with Associate Management Resources. Workers who want to continue working at California Cartage Co. would have to reapply with a new staffing agency.
The workers assert that California Cartage Co. is terminating them because of ongoing lawsuits between both parties.
“In 2014…they [the workers] filed a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the City of Los Angeles Living Wage,” said Celene Perez, co-director of Warehouse Worker Resource Center.
There is also a hearing scheduled in June for California Cartage Co. to address a complaint of labor law violations. The National Labor Relations Board will preside over the hearing.
In addition, the workers informed the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health of workplace hazards at California Cartage Co., which resulted in citations this past year.
California Cartage Co. and Associate Management Resources Inc. were contacted for comments on employee mistreatment. California Cartage Co. declined. Associate Management Resources Inc. did not respond.
The warehouse workers have largely been supported by the Warehouse Worker Resource Center. The center believes the California Cartage’s termination decision is in response to the workers’ collective actions and demands.
“These workers should be protected from retaliation,” Perez said. “California Cartage must retain these workers and bring them on as direct employees.”
The warehouse workers returned to work the day after the strike. California Cartage Co. still plans to terminate the workers. But in January, the workers successfully lobbied California Cartage Co. to supply them with state mandated steel-toe boots. So, the workers remain united and hopeful for change.
“The retaliation we are experiencing has been ongoing…but our fight will go on past May 1, until we win,” Gonzales said.