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Wayfair Workers Plan Walkout over Company Furnishing Border Camps

Boston, MA Hundreds of employees of online home goods company call on it to end partnership with government contractor.

Activists protest against the Trump administration’s immigration policies last year. Workers at the furniture company Wayfair are planning a demonstration this week.,Cj Gunther/EPA

Hundreds of employees of the online home goods company Wayfair will stage a walkout on Wednesday in protest against its involvement in furnishing border camps.

Employees organizing the walkout at the firm’s Boston headquarters say they demanded the company stop its partnership with a government contractor to provide beds for detained immigrants.

“We believe the current actions of the United States and their contractors at the Southern border do not represent an ethical business partnership Wayfair should choose to be a part of,” the letter signed by 547 employees said.

The protest comes as the US government and Trump administration has come under fire for poor conditions at border facilities and the deaths of at least six children.

On Monday, more than 300 children were moved from an overcrowded facility after attorneys who visited said detainees were left with inadequate food, water and sanitation. An official from the Trump administration said on Tuesday that children detained in facilities did not need basic products like soap, toothbrushes or blankets.

In the letter to Wayfair, protesters asked the company to cease the contract and donate $86,000 of the profits it has made thus far from these sales to Raices, a not-for-profit immigration legal service focusing on reuniting families and children separated at the border. Raices said it would welcome such a donation.

“We applaud Wayfair workers who are walking out to protest Wayfair profiting from detention centers,” Raices wrote on its official Twitter account. “No one who works for a company profiting from these camps should be standing idly by as children are dying. This takes a village.”

In a response to the letter, the leadership team at Wayfair said it would continue to fulfill orders for “all customers” acting within the laws of countries in which it operates.

“This does not indicate support for the opinions or actions of the groups or individuals who purchase from us,” the team wrote.

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Under the hashtag #WayfairWalkout, customers have planned a boycott of the company in solidarity with workers walking out of the job. “I won’t buy another thing from your site if you are going to support these concentration camps,” one user wrote.

The action received support on Tuesday from prominent progressive lawmakers, including the House representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

Wayfair did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment. The protest comes as a growing number of employees at tech firms push back against for-profit contracts with government agencies over controversial policies.

Employees at Amazon have demanded the company stop using its facial recognition technology for police contracts and in 2018 protesters called on Salesforce to stop its contracts with US Customs and Border Protection. Microsoft employees also called on the company to cease contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) in 2018.