International Working Women’s Day Rally – March 8, 2015
On, Sunday, March 8th, 2015 in front of the Brooklyn Costco, women workers from Pactiv Corp. were joined by hundreds of other workers, families, students and concerned residents to publicly shame the wholesale retailer Costco. The Ain’t I a Woman?! Campaign demanded Costco management to immediately cease from contracting with Pactiv and its parent company Reynolds’, because they force workers to perform mandatory overtime.
Workers who had slaved in Pactiv Corp.’s packing department decided to organize and demand better conditions in June 2010 after one worker passed out due to the extreme heat and lack of water. In response, the company launched a retaliation campaign, laying off 60% of the packing department for leading or supporting the efforts to improve working conditions. The remaining workers were forced to speed up production and work up to 84 hours a week, causing many injuries and even permanent disability. Pactiv then fired even more workers in 2012 and 2013, replacing them with temporary workers. Wan Zhen, a Pactiv worker says, “The boss does not care whether we women live or die. We had enough of it and we fought back. Myself, and more than half of the workers were fired for organizing. The remaining workers had to do all of the work. As a result, mandatory overtime damaged women workers health. Costco said they treat workers well. If this is the case, they should stop selling sweatshop products.”
Reverend Vanessa Cardinale of Trinity Lutheran Church in Sunset Park says, “As a local church, our congregation includes women, workers, and families. We support this campaign to demand an end to mandatory overtime as it effects us all.” Costco has largely profited from its image as a pro-worker company, including maintaining a code of conduct to not contract with companies that impose mandatory overtime. However, it is breaking that code by continuing to do business with sweatshops Pactiv and Reynolds’. Workers and Costco members have called on Costco’s management to take Reynolds products off the shelves. Despite repeated requests, Costco continues to profit from the sweatshop manufacturer’s goods. Workers and supporters are urging Costco members and the general public to call the management and sign petitions demanding Costco cut ties with Pactiv and Reynolds’.