Warehouse Workers United

Warehouse Workers United (WWU) began in 2009 as an organizing initiative of Change to Win (CTW), a coalition of major unions.  CTW includes the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the United Farm Worker (UFW) union and until recently United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).  Not only does WWU’s funding come from CTW, but its staff is directly paid by CTW.  WWU acts as a third party through which unions coordinate action, and it directs the actions of two worker centers, the Warehouse Worker Resource Center and the Si Se Puede! Fund.

Due to their proximity to major ports, the two largest distribution centers in the country are located in southern California and just outside of Chicago, Illinois.  A disproportional percentage of goods pass through these warehouses bound for store fronts across the country, and unions view them as key “choke points.”  Unions hope that by targeting these distribution channels not only can they organize warehouses workers, but more importantly, they can organize strikes and cut off the flow of goods during key periods.

Southern California’s Inland Empire warehouse district is targeted by WWU, and the Chicago warehouse district is similarly targeted by the worker center, Warehouse Worker for Justice (WWJ).  The SEIU and UFCW, in particular, have relied upon the WWU, and its Illinois counterpart WWJ, to provide another angle of attack when executing their comprehensive attack campaigns against major retail brands across the country.

Founding

With support from Change to Win (CTW) which is led by top union officials WWU was created in 2009.  It functioned as worker center during its early years and even today is often referred to as such.  In 2012, it submitted its first report to the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) ...

Funding

In 2012, Warehouse Workers United claimed income and receipts of $107,313, only $1,186 was generated by monthly membership dues.  CTW gave WWU $5,000 last year as well. The modest income reported by WWU isn’t representation because staff salaries and other expenses are paid directly by the SEIU and other unions through CTW. For ...

Key Alliances

As is common, beyond WWU’s direct affiliates, the Warehouse Worker Resource Center and the Si Se Puede! Fund, the organization immediately established close operational ties with social justice groups such as the Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-CA) and Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ). ...

Size and Scope

As of 2012, Warehouse Workers United listed 113 members, a fraction of the almost 100,000 workers in Southern California warehouses. In past walkouts, approximately 30-40 actual warehouse employees or former employees have participated, not including activists or union members. Despite its small stature, WWU has an oversized profile within the media because union ...

Tactics

The ultimate goal of CTW’s efforts via WWU is to unionize warehouse workers in southern California and workers in retail locations across the country.  To accomplish this feat, CTW recognizes that it must drive public opinion toward a more labor friendly environment.  WWU’s contribution to this national effort ...