June 25, 2019 / 11:44 PM / 23 days ago

Wayfair employee walkout called over alleged furniture sales to U.S. migrant camp

(Reuters) - Wayfair Inc came under pressure on Tuesday after hundreds of employees were reported to be planning a walkout over the retailer’s alleged sale of more than $200,000 in bedroom furniture for a Texas detention facility for migrant children.

FILE PHOTO: Migrant children are led by staff in single file between tents at a detention facility next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Shares of the company fell 5.3% to $144.40 on the New York Stock Exchange.

A Twitter account under the handle @wayfairwalkout, created this month with a following of more than 13,000 including high-profile Democratic U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called for the work stop on Wednesday.

Wayfair, headquartered in Boston, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The @wayfairwalkout account referred Reuters to the company and Reuters was not able to confirm it was created by Wayfair employees.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter: “I stand with hundreds of @Wayfair employees who are planning to stage a walkout at their Boston headquarters tomorrow. The safety and well-being of immigrant children is always worth fighting for.”

An image of a letter to Wayfair leaders from employees said that an order for more than $200,000 of bedroom furniture was destined for a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas that would house migrant children seeking asylum.

Criticism has mounted this week over the detention of migrant children in overcrowded, squalid conditions.

“In response to a recent letter signed by 547 employees, our CEO said that the company would not cease doing business with contractors furnishing border camps,” @wayfairwalkout tweeted.

It demanded that Wayfair stop selling to migrant detention camps and that it give profits, which they claim amount to $86,000, to a Texas-based non-profit agency offering legal services to immigrants.

Screenshots on Twitter of a letter to employees that said it was from the retailer’s “leadership team” read, “...We believe it is our business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws of the countries within which we operate.”

The walkout, scheduled to take place on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. ET in Boston’s Copley Square, is the latest example of employees protesting workplace social issues.

In June 2018, Alphabet Inc’s Google faced internal upheaval over a contract to help the U.S. military analyze aerial drone imagery.

The hashtag “#wayfairwalkout” was top trending in the United State on Twitter as of Tuesday evening.

“Wayfair workers couldn’t stomach they were making beds to cage children,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez. “They asked the company to stop. CEO said no. Tomorrow, they’re walking out.”

Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York, editing by Peter Henderson and Cynthia Osterman

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