Ten workers at a Southern California warehouse say they were recently suspended indefinitely without pay for taking a five-minute heat break with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees.
The workers are employed at Olivet International Mira Loma warehouse, which supplies Walmart, and said they were targeted for raising concerns about the working conditions during the past few months.
Ricardo Hernandez, 21, told The Huffington Post he worked at the warehouse full time for a year until Friday.
"We take heat breaks two or three times a day," Hernandez said. "But then on Friday, they told us they were suspending us for taking a heat break. I want management to hear us and take a walk in our shoes to see what we go through every day. This warehouse is really tough to work in under such hot temperatures with no cool water."
Hernandez said when he and his coworkers have asked for water or raised safety concerns about speeding or overloaded forklifts, they are ignored.
"They take us as a joke," he said.
Guadalupe Palma, director of Warehouse Workers United, said all 10 suspended workers participated in a two-day strike in late July. About 30 of the roughly 200 workers at the warehouse protested what they said was intimidation, spying and retaliation for raising concerns about working conditions.
“We fear that every day we go to work could be our last,” said Heidi Baizabal, who has worked at the warehouse for five years, in a press release from Warehouse Workers United. “We are followed, watched on camera, forced into individual meetings and harassed daily. We need Walmart to see what’s happening inside its contracted warehouse. We move Walmart suitcases and we want safe, good jobs.”