Employees of the home decor company Wayfair will walk out Wednesday afternoon to protest the company’s dealings supplying the Trump administration’s border camps.
547 of the company’s 8,700 employees — more than 6% of the Wayfair workforce — signed a letter objecting to orders the company has filled for contractors maintaining the camps along the U.S.-Mexico border. In particular, a $200,000 order for bedroom furniture intended to outfit a camp in Carrizo Springs, Texas that would house 3,000 migrant children.
The employees asked for the order to be canceled, but Wayfair refused. Employees now demand the $86,000 in profits of the sale be donated to refugee and immigrant legal aid organization RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services).
Wayfair is confirmed to be selling beds to the border camps! Employees asked for the order to be canceled and management said no. Everyone deserves a home they can feel safe and loved in, especially children, no matter where they're from.
— wayfairwalkout (@wayfairwalkout) June 25, 2019
In response, employees have scheduled a walkout for Wednesday at 1:30 pm local time.
The border camps have been characterized by some in Congress as concentration camps in an especially contentious recent debate over the Trump administration’s treatment of refugees and migrants. While there have been stark criticisms of this comparison, many scholars have confirmed “the analogy is correct.”
And with the Trump administration preparing for a massive round-up of migrant families, these camps will likely become even more important to the detention and isolation of immigrants.
And in this context, Wayfair employees have framed their protest as a moral imperative.
“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,” read the letter employees signed. “At Wayfair, we believe that ‘everyone should live in a home that they love’. Let’s stay true to that message by taking a stand against the reprehensible practice of separating families, which denies them any home at all.”
While the practice of family separation formally ended by court order a year ago, there have been reports that the Trump administration is interested in restarting the policy in defiance of that court order. The administration has also continued the policy in a greatly diminished fashion.
Wayfair has said that though they will continue to supply the camps, that does not mean they agree with the policy that leads to those camps being necessary.
Wayfair employees join others protesting companies’ perceived unethical stances like Amazon employees protesting the company’s facial recognition technology being supplied to law enforcement and Salesforce and Microsoft employees protesting their companies’ ties to immigration officials.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.