United States

Wayfair Walkout: Employees Protest Sales to Migrant Detention Centers

More than 500 Wayfair employees signed a petition demanding the Boston-based company cease sales with government contractors who work with migrant detention centers

What to Know

  • Wayfair employees organized a walkout over the company's decision to do business with contractors who work with border camps.
  • Employees are demanding the Boston-based company donate 100% of their proceeds to a non-profit that helps undocumented immigrants.
  • Participants walked from the company's headquarters in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood to Copley Square.

Hundreds of Wayfair employees walked off the job Wednesday to protest the online retailer's decision to furnish a detention camp for migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The workers walked out from their Boston headquarters at 1:30 p.m. and headed to Copley Square, about a seven-minute walk away. Organizers called on employees who are based in the headquarters and remote workers to participate in the protest.

"We know that there's an injustice in this world and we're going to do something about it," said one worker.

The protest came after more than 500 employees signed a petition demanding the Boston-based e-commerce company cease all current and any future sales with contractors who work with detention camps. The petition directly addressed Wayfair co-founders Steve Conine and Niraj Shah.

A walkout is looming at Wayfair after employees raised concerns about furniture sales to migrant detention centers.

"We believe in our leadership. We think that they are good people deep down. We think this will start the conversation," said Wayfair employee Tom Brown.

CNBC reports organizers for the protest claim the company made $86,000 in profits made by selling mattresses for the detention camp. An anonymous employee told The Boston Globe that a $200,000 order was made on June 13 by Baptist Children's Family Services, a charity group that works as a government contractor that manages some of the centers.

Protest organizer Madeline Howard want such deals to stop and a code of ethics to be instituted as well as all previous profits to be donated.

Just before the protest, workers found out that Wayfair would make a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross but Howard said that wasn't enough.

"We don't think the camps should run at all or exist at all and this is our way of telling them that," said Howard.

Wayfair customers who support the employees' decision to protest were also out Wednesday showing their support.

"I'm a loyal customer of theirs," said Wayfair customer Bonnie Theise. "I pray that they will come together with their employees and listen to them and stop doing business but if they don't, no I will not support them."

The controversy was followed by the company's stock dropping by 5.3% Tuesday. Employees are demanding those proceeds be donated to RAICES, a non-profit agency that offers low-cost legal services to undocumented immigrants.

Politicians including 2020 contenders Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to voice their support for the walkout.

DoneGood, a Cambridge-based online retailer, also voiced its support for the walkout and vowed to donate 100% of the revenue they make Wednesday to Raices.

Wayfair did not return repeated requests for comment.

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