Wayfair employees protest company's bed sales to migrant camps
The Wayfair protest in Boston ended after about an hour with a chant.
"When immigrants are under attack, what do we do?" asked protest leader Madeline Howard. "Stand up. Fight back," the crowd chanted.
"We don’t want our company to profit off of children being in concentration camps. We don’t want them to do this again," Howard said.
She called on Wayfair (W) to implement a "code of ethics that blocks orders like this from happening again."
"We really believe that they will do this. They will," she said. "You know why they’ll do this? Worker power."
Wayfair co-founders Steve Conine and Niraj Shah said the company will donate $100k to support the American Red Cross “in their effort to help those in dire need of basic necessities at the border.”
But employees protesting Wayfair (W) want the company to donate to RAICES, a nonprofit immigration legal services fund.
"We want them to donate the funds to RAICES," Wayfair worker Madeline Howard told the protest group Wednesday. "We don’t want it donated to the Red cCross, as great as that is. We want them to donate it to something that’s relevant to what we’re asking for.”
In a letter to employees, Wayfair (W) cofounders Steve Conine and Niraj Shah said the company will donate $100k to support the American Red Cross “in their effort to help those in dire need of basic necessities at the border.”
“We believe strongly in the political process in our country and the power of individuals engaging in it to create change,” the cofounders said in the letter.
The company didn’t say whether the funds for the donation come from the proceeds or profits as a result of bedroom furniture sales for use in migrant facilities, but the donation comes on the heels of intense backlash from employees and lawmakers.
Wayfair declined CNN’s request for comment.
CNN obtained a copy of the letter:
Hello Team --
I want to further follow up on the conversations I've had with many of you over the last day.
As many of you know, Niraj and I care a great deal about humanitarian issues. We agree that there is a crisis at the border and people there are in need. Wayfair has provided millions of dollars to support a variety of charities, including Habitat for Humanity, Homes for our Troops and the many charities that you all choose to support through our matching program. As we have responded in the past to natural disasters and other urgent needs for humanitarian relief (ie. Hurricane Florence, CA wildfires, etc.), we will make a donation of $100,000 to support the American Red Cross in their effort to help those in dire need of basic necessities at the border.
We believe strongly in the political process in our country and the power of individuals engaging in it to create change. As we enter the next election cycle, the ability for everyone to contribute their views and be politically engaged is even more important.
We respect the passion of all our employees on this issue and look forward to continuing our dialogue with you
Steve and Niraj
A CNN cameraman who is there estimates that there are about 500 people at the protest.
Separately, an observer did a quick video to give people a sense of how many were in attendance:
A Wayfair employee who identified himself as Robbie led the crowd in a "No Justice. No Peace" chant.
“This is an example of a worker-led movement that the entire country and world is watching and looking to for inspiration," he said.
He compared the Wayfair (W) protest to Massachusetts Stop & Shop workers who went on strike recently over their pay.
“Our power is right here within the worker movement and on the streets," he said.
"The workers united will never be defeated," the crowd chanted after he finished his speech.
After Madeline Howard, Elizabeth Good and other Wayfair workers were finished with their speeches, Wayfair (W) worker Madeline Howard let the crowd in a chant.
"Show me what democracy looks like," she said.
"This is what democracy looks like," the crowd responded.
Some protesters carried signs to the rally:
“Abolish ICE. No one is illegal"
"Endless detention is torture"
Employees gathered at Copley Square in Boston to protest and took turns at the microphone.
“This is the first time I felt like I needed to hit the streets to make sure that I was proud of my company—that I was happy to work for them, to make sure that we’re all adhering to those Wayfair values, like everyone deserves a home that they love," said Madeline Howard.
She's been a Wayfair employee for around seven years.
“I am proud to work at Wayfair and I am proud to continue the dialogue that will lead to us ending the support of concentration camps at our southern border…I am proud of the people that joined us today," said Elizabeth Good, another employee.