- Hundreds of employees at the home goods retailer Wayfair walked out of the retailer’s headquarters on Wednesday in protest of the company selling furniture to a government contractor that runs migrant detention facilities.
- After discovering that the company had sold $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture for a center that holds migrant children, over 500 employees wrote a letter asking for Wayfair to stop selling to this contractor and others that run similar operations.
- The protests were carried out after the company did not comply with the demands, but shortly before it started, Wayfair’s co-founders made a $100,000 donation to the Red Cross.
- While protestors appreciated the donation, they say that it does not address the issue at hand and have promised to continue this discussion with management at Wayfair.
Employees Speak Up
Employees at the home goods retailer Wayfair staged a walkout on Wednesday after learning that the company had sold $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture to a government contractor that runs a detention center for migrant children in Carrizo Springs, Texas.
The government contractor at the root of the issue is a nonprofit organization called BCFS, which made headlines last year for its harsh treatment of migrants. In September, Wayfair sold furniture to a BCFS facility in Tornillo, Texas that held more than 2,500 teenagers, according to the Washington Post. That camp was closed in January following “serious safety and health” concerns.
Aside from the contractors’ reputation, news of this Wayfair deal came amid outrage over reports that children were being denied basic items including toothpaste and soap at a detention center in Clint.
More than 500 employees signed a letter to executives after finding out about the contract with BCFS. In it, they urged the company to stop doing business with BCFS and other similar contractors that participate in the operation of migrant detention camps. They also called for the company to create a code of ethics for business- to business- sales.
For the record, here’s the letter the employees sent, which includes the details of the B2B order that wayfair fulfilled. pic.twitter.com/mfKs1krawu— Dais (@sun_daiz) June 25, 2019
Management at Wayfair responded with their own letter, telling employees that they appreciated their passion, but defended their actions saying: “It is our business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws of the countries within which we operate.”
Social Media Users Weigh In
Soon after, a Twitter account appeared dedicated to organizing a walkout.
News of the planned walkout spread quickly on social media on Tuesday and generated international attention, prompting many to call for a boycott of the company. Politicians even chimed in. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about the walkout, saying: “Wayfair workers couldn’t stomach they were making beds to cage children.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, also weighed in saying, “The safety and well-being of immigrant children is always worth fighting for.”
Walkouts & Red Cross Donation
Several hundred employees protested in Copley Square near Wayfair’s Boston headquarters on Wednesday, including engineers, product managers, visual artists, and others.
In these dark times, seeing this constant stream of employees walk out of the Wayfair offices is making my heart soar.— Lucky Tran (@luckytran) June 26, 2019
They are putting their values over personal risk.
They are showing the real power everyday people have.
But shortly before the protest began, Wayfair cofounders Steve Conine and Niraj Shah sent a note to employees. In it, they said they both “care a great deal about humanitarian issues,” and added, “We agree that there is a crisis at the border and people there are in need.”
The co-founders then told employees that the company would donate $100,000 to the Red Cros to support its “efforts to help those in dire need of basic necessities at the border.”
The Red Cross confirmed receiving the funds saying it was “grateful for Wayfair’s generous donation,” the Chicago Tribune reported. They also said it would put the money towards community-based organizations that are helping with the migrant crisis at the southern border.
Still, protest organizers say the donation does not actually address their concerns.
According to the Boston Globe, one employee said she and other organizers walked out of a meeting with Shah on Tuesday when he refused to meet their demands.
Vox issued a similar report, saying that during that afternoon meeting, the co-founders discussed giving a large donation. “There are questions about which charity to give to avoid anyone being seen as too political,” the employee told Vox. “They said no outright to the ACLU. A lot of it was them not trying to commit to anything too specifically.”
At one point at least one employee asked Conine if the company could meet their two demands and Conine responded that he couldn’t give the answer they wanted to hear. Employees were not satisfied with those responses and pushed forward with the protest.
As far as what happens next, an organizer told the Cut that the walkout was considered a success, but said the demands have still not been met. The online magazine reported, “The protesters will continue speaking with management to try to ensure that their business won’t be profiting off of human misery.”
See what others are saying: (The Boston Globe) (Vox) (CNBC)
Michael B. Jordan Is Renaming His Rum Brand Amid Cultural Appropriation Criticism
“Our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture we love and respect,” Jordan said after backlash from fans and even fellow celebrity Nicki Minaj.
J’Ouvert Rum Sparks Outrage
Actor Michael B. Jordan apologized Tuesday and said he is renaming his rum brand after backlash he received since its launch over the weekend
The brand originally debuted under the name J’Ouvert, but fans quickly expressed their disappointment on social media, accusing the brand of cultural appropriation and exploitation.
The majority of the outrage stemmed from the fact that J’Ouvert is the name of an annual festival held in Trinidad and Tobago, along with other Caribbean islands, during Carnival to celebrate Caribbean culture and emancipation from slavery.
Though Jordan’s business partner on the project is reportedly from Trinidad, Jordan has no ties to the culture, so many accused him of seemingly treating it as an aesthetic.
Others also worried about the name being trademarked, fearing that it could erase J’Ouvert’s history as people come to associate the name with his drink. Some even compared it to Kim Kardashian wanting to name her brand Kimono.
Concerns Reach Officials and Fellow Celebs
At one point, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon told Newsday that the issue was “of extreme concern.”
“The first thing is to gather the information to see if it is in fact so. Then working together with the intellectual property office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, we’ll do the necessary investigation and, as always, seek to support anything that is Trinidad but at the same time protect what is ours.“
“This is of keen interest, not only to the Ministry of Trade and Industry but also to the intellectual property office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. We all have an interest. Trinidad and Tobago is our interest.”
On Tuesday, rapper Nicki Minaj, who is Trinidadian, called for Jordan to address the issue.
She shared a comment detailing the significant cultural history of the festival, adding in her caption, “I’m sure MBJ didn’t intentionally do anything he thought Caribbean ppl would find offensive. But now that you are aware, change the name & continue to flourish & prosper.“
A few hours later, Jordan did just that, with a statement on his Instagram story.
“I just wanna say on behalf of myself and my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture we love and respect and hoped to celebrate and shine a positive light on.”
“Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning and engaging in countless community conversations…We hear you. I hear you and want to be clear that we are in the process of renaming. We sincerely apologize and look forward to introducing a brand we can all be proud of,” he concluded.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (Newsday)(CNN)
Amazon UK Destroys Millions in Unsold Stock a Year, Including MacBooks, Face Masks, TVs, and iPads
Amazon claims the unused products aren’t being dumped in landfills, but an investigation by ITV shows otherwise.
Amazon Destroying Unused Products
A probe by British news outlet ITV has found that one Amazon warehouse in Scotland destroys millions of unsold products every year.
It’s not just perishable items being dumped. The list of discarded products includes Macbooks, iPads, Dyson fans, unopened face masks, TVs, jewelry, unread books, and more.
One anonymous former employee told ITV that the warehouse’s target was to get rid of roughly 130,000 items per week, and on average, about 50% of the items destroyed are still unused and in their shrinkwrap.
“There’s no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed,” the employee said.
In its investigation, ITV received documents that appeared to back up the employee’s information, with one showing 124,000 items marked to be destroyed in a single week. Meanwhile, ITV noted that only 28,000 items were labelled “donate” during that same week.
Where Are the Discarded Products Going?
It also tracked where the items went after leaving the plant. There, it found Amazon taking some electrical items to a nearby waste management system, but it says the rest was tracked to a landfill site.
Despite that, in a statement, Amazon told ITV, “We are working towards a goal of zero product disposal and our priority is to resell, donate to charitable organisations or recycle any unsold products. No items are sent to landfill in the UK. As a last resort, we will send items to energy recovery, but we’re working hard to drive the number of times this happens down to zero.”
Whether it’s telling the truth or not, what Amazon is doing isn’t illegal. In fact, the reason why it’s throwing so much out seems to be connected to its highly successful business model.
“Many vendors choose to house their products in Amazon’s vast warehouses,” ITV explained. “But the longer the goods remain unsold, the more a company is charged to store them. It is eventually cheaper to dispose of the goods, especially stock from overseas, than to continue storing the stock.”
As climate activist Sam Chetan-Welsh told ITV, “It’s just an unimaginable amount of unnecessary waste. It’s absolutely shocking. Each of these items requires natural resources and carbon emissions and human labor to make.”
“That is why as long as Amazon’s business model relies on this kind of disposable culture, they’re just going to expand, things are only going to get worse, and that is why we need the government to step in and set legislation immediately.”
The report has raised questions about how prevalent this destruction practice is and continues to be at other warehouses — especially given past reporting. In fact, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “It sounds incredible to me and an indictment of a consumerist society. If it’s as you say, we will look into it.”
“Obviously, we don’t like stuff going to landfill under any circumstances that’s why we have the landfill tax and landfill credit scheme, and everything else,” the prime minister added. “I’m afraid it’s one of those things we’re just going to have to look into and get back to you.”
Europe’s Soccer Championship Ends Investigation Into Whether Player’s Rainbow Armband Is “Political”
The Union of European Football Associations will continue a probe into potential discrimination at its matches in Hungary, which passed a major anti-LGBTQ+ bill last week.
Pride Armband Isn’t Political, UEFA Says
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has agreed that a rainbow armband worn by German soccer player Manuel Neuer is not political in nature, according to the German Football Association (GFA).
Neuer wore the band at two official matches during UEFA’s Euro 2020 Championship and once during a friendly match with Latvia to show support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month.
Sunday, multiple outlets reported that UEFA was investigating Neuer’s armband as potentially political, possibly because LGBTQ+ rights have become somewhat of a flashpoint topic since the start of the tournament. Since UEFA does not allow players and teams to participate in “political demonstrations” at events, there were concerns the GFA could be hit with a fine.
Later Sunday, the GFA said UEFA would consider the armband “a sign of support for diversity and thus for ‘good cause,’” and because of that, the team would not face any disciplinary action.
Discrimination Investigation at Hungary Games
The same day outlets reported the investigation into Neuer’s armband, they also reported that UEFA was investigating two matches in Hungary for potential discrimination.
At the first match, an anti-LGBTQ+ banner was spotted in the crowd. At the second, Hungarian fans marched with banners that called on players to stop kneeling to protest racism.
Both events come as Hungary passed a bill against “LGBT propaganda” last week. Notably, that law bans the promotion or portrayal of homosexuality and gender reassignment.
In protest of Hungary’s new law, Munich’s mayor has asked the UEFA to allow the city to light up its stadium in rainbow colors on Wednesday when the German and Hungarian teams square off.