Multi-city strike in the south, Columbia workers file civil rights complaint

Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 10:51 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Midlands workers from the retail, warehouse, and fast food industry are joining together in a joint strike to bring awareness to unsafe working conditions employees feel like they go through.

Leaders of the protest say the protest is a one-day multi-state collaboration through the Union of Southern Service Workers protesting the dangerous working conditions they say they face daily. The strikes are in Columbia, S.C.; Durham, N.C.; and Atlanta, G.A.

South Service Workers filed a civil rights complaint Tuesday against South Carolina’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The lawsuit claims the organization, “engages in egregious discrimination based on race” by failing to inspect workplaces with disproportionately Black workforces.”

The complaint also alleges SC OSHA violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by, “exposing Black workers to an unacceptable and inequitable risk of injuries and illness.”

A spokesperson says this is the union’s first Southwide day of action since workers publicly launched the union last November.

“My job is not a safe place to work. Ryder does not give us any safety gear—no safety helmets inside a warehouse where heavy boxes often fall from 60 feet up. We have over 100 pallets stacked the whole length of the warehouse—blocking all the fire exits. If there was a fire, we would not all be able to get out,” said Sersie Cobb Jr, a forklift driver at Ryder warehouse in Columbia, SC, who filed OSHA complaints with a group of his coworkers.

On top of all that, I have experienced workplace violence. In January, I was threatened and physically assaulted by a manager. My coworkers and I have filed complaints but Ryder Corporation has done nothing to protect us!” added Cobb Jr.

Workers will rally outside Ryder Warehouse on 2002 American Italian Way, starting at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4th. WIS has embedded the complaint against SC OSHA below.

Ryder released a statement:

We are aware of the allegations and are working closely with OSHA. The health, safety, and security of our employees is a top priority. Ryder has long encouraged employees to bring any concerns to management’s attention and has well established policies, procedures, and reporting mechanisms in place to prevent, detect, and/or correct any concerns about employee health, safety, and security in all of our facilities.

Ryder Warehouse

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