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Report Criticizes 8A Warehouses for Work Environment

New Labor says local distribution centers offer low pay, discriminate against workers from temporary agencies.

New Labor, a New Jersey-based organization with worker centers in New Brunswick and Lakewood, issued the report New Jersey’s Supply Chain Pain: Warehouse and Logistics Work Under Walmart and Other Big-Box Retailers on May 17.

The state's container port, the Port of Newark/Elizabeth, is the second largest in the nation, moving more than 80 million metric tons of cargo and 3 million containers in a year. Much of these goods are moved through warehouses near N.J. Turnpike Exit 8A in South Brunswick and Cranbury.

The industry's largest customers, according to New Labor, are the big-box chains like Target and Walmart.

The report said that the state's logistics industry -- "a complex network of establishments that that move consumer goods quickly and efficiently onward toward the shelves of stores across the country" -- pays workers an average of $8.26 an hour, with more than two-thirds making less than $8 an hour.

The report also said that temporary workers made more than $1 less than permanent workers, were less protected by workplace rules and faced greater degrees of discrimination.

"Three-quarters of agency workers surveyed did not know with whom to speak in the event that they were injured on the job and had to file a workers’ compensation claim," the report said. "The biggest source of confusion seemed to be related to whether the agency or the company where they worked would be the party responsible for helping them. As a result, agency workers are 50 percent more likely than direct hire employees to be confused about the workman’s compensation claim procedure."

The report added that "4.8 percent of agency workers who were asked about whether there was discrimination at their workplace complained that agency workers were treated worse than direct hire workers."

Wal-Mart officials disputed the report.

"As the largest retailer, of course there’s going to be brand name goods and fresh food that pass through various warehouses that wind up on our shelves as well as the shelves of other warehouses," Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman told The Star Ledger. "For the authors of the study to single us out as somehow influencing the working conditions of an entire industry is irresponsible and brings into question the credibility of the entire study."

Joe R May 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM
What a shock? Walmart and Target, two vehemently anti-union companies. Employees are forced to watch anti-union films and are subjected to non stop anti union propaganda. Any worker who dares to bring up unions is bullied and intimidated. If a brave soul continues to try to unionize, he or she is fired on some trumped up charges.
Gary B May 22, 2012 at 02:42 PM
The squeeze by companies like Walmart goes totally through the supply chain. Do more for less is forcing some of these warehouse companies to cut cut cut, this is where it ends up.
John Romano May 22, 2012 at 03:33 PM
....amazed that a Walmart spokesperson got his feathers ruffled because the report (almost) singles them out. When entire container ships bound for the U.S. (from China)...are almost 100% filled with cut-price (and cut-quality) Walmart goods...it's pretty easy to figure out where to throw the dart.
Eyeballs May 22, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I'll bet they discriminate againt temporary employees with bad resumes, poor recommendations, criminal records, low skills, and poor hygiene? Shame!! What are they trying to do, be successful?!

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