Wayfair Employees To Protest Company's Business With Migrant Border Camps

Employees plan a walkout for Wednesday after executives refused to stop selling furniture intended for migrant detention centers.

Hundreds of employees of Wayfair, the online furniture retailer, plan to walk out of their offices in Boston on Wednesday because they say the company has refused their demand to cut ties with government contractors operating migrant detention centers.

The employees formed a group called Wayfair Walkout on Tuesday, revealing in a tweet that they sent a letter to Wayfair executives signed by 547 employees asking them to cease working with the contractors.

“Everyone deserves a home they can feel safe and loved in, especially children, no matter where they’re from,” the group tweeted from an unverified Twitter account.

According to the group, Wayfair agreed to sell beds to furnish detention centers where tens thousands of migrants who were caught crossing the U.S. border illegally, including hundreds of children, are being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

The group said the company’s chief executive, Niraj Shah, refused to hear their request. Wayfair’s public relations team did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

“Knowing what’s going on at the southern border and knowing that Wayfair has the potential to profit from it is pretty scary,” Elizabeth Good, a Wayfair manager who helped organize the group, told the Boston Globe on Tuesday.

“I want to work at a company where the standards we hold ourselves to are the same standards that we hold our customers and our partners to.”

BCFS, a nonprofit that has a contract to manage the detention camps, ordered $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture from Wayfair, the Boston Globe reported. When employees learned of the purchase last week, they sent the letter to Wayfair’s leadership expressing their disproval, according to the Globe’s reporting.

BCFS has previously managed a temporary camp for migrant children in Tornillo, Texas, which was shut down in January. According to a New York Times report in June 2018, BCFS has received at least $179 million in federal contracts since 2015 to operate programs that manage migrant youth who crossed the border illegally without a family member.

The organization is expected to soon open a detention facility for an estimated 1,600 minors in Carrizo Springs, Texas, CNN reported.

The employee-run group said on Twitter that they asked for the order to be canceled but the company refused. The group then asked the company to donate $86,000, which is the estimated profit from the contractor’s order, to RAICES, a nonprofit advocacy group that offers legal services to immigrants and refugees.

Shah also refused to make the donation.

Forbes estimates that Wayfair generates $7 billion in annual revenue. In 2017, Shah and Wayfair co-founder Steve Connie reached a combined net worth of $1.37 billion after revenue soared, according to the Globe.

In a letter to the protesting employee group, obtained by the Washington Post, Wayfair’s leadership defended its decision to sell to the contractor and reminded the group that those who work in the company “hold a wide range of opinions and perspectives.”

“As a retailer, it is standard practice to fulfill orders for all customers and we believe it is our business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws of the countries in which we operate,” the company leadership wrote, adding that Wayfair is a “mass-market brand” that “is oriented to serve a broad and diverse customer base.”

A copy of the letter was also posted to Twitter.

RAICES, which is based in Texas, urged its followers on Twitter to support Wayfair Walkout’s protest and hold the company’s executives accountable.

“This takes courage,” the nonprofit tweeted.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she stood behind the Wayfair employees’ protest, noting that the “safety and well-being of immigrant children is always worth fighting for.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has referred to detention centers as “concentration camps,” said that the expected company walkout is an example of solidarity with those who oppose current immigration policies.

“This is what solidarity looks like ― a reminder that everyday people have real power, as long as we’re brave enough to use it,” she tweeted.

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