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Were These Wal-Mart Warehouse Workers Fired for Speaking Up About Working With No Heat?

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Workers at an Indiana warehouse owned by Wal-Mart filed unfair labor charges Thursday with the National Labor Relations Board against the staffing agency that employs them and the company that operates the warehouse.

The workers allege they were forced to work without heat during the extremely cold weather earlier this year.

They have signed a petition asking for higher wages, a path to full-time employment and a safe work environment. Two workers who asked their colleagues to sign the petition claim they were illegally fired.

David Fields, one of the workers who was fired, said he began organizing his colleagues when he learned that some had worked at the warehouse for three winters without heat.

Fields said the workers didn’t complain because they work for a staffing agency without benefits or job security. Workers make about $9 per hour to load and unload boxes and $10.50 per hour to operate forklifts.

Fields is also a member of Warehouse Workers Organizing Committee, a group funded by the United Electrical union.

The group is part of a larger movement to unionize warehouse workers around the country, a challenging goal because many of them are temporary workers employed by staffing agencies.

A spokesman with the agency said it received a complaint in January and opened an investigation, which has not been finalized.

Workers said the warehouse operator, LINC Logistics, installed space heaters after they filed the complaint with the agency.

John Locke, director of operations at Oakland Logistics, a subdivision of LINC, said the company denies any wrongdoing. He added that the company doesn’t comment on pending charges or allegations.

Kory Lundberg, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said Wal-Mart expects its third party service providers to maintain legal compliance in their operations, especially with their workforce.

Read the full story at: chicagotribune.com

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