Online furniture retailer Wayfair’s Boston headquarters saw empty desks and crowded streets on Wednesday as employees walked out in the middle of the workday to protest the company’s involvement in furnishing border detention camps.
According to the Boston Globe, employees discovered last week that Wayfair planned a major sale with government contractor BCFS and was about to receive $200,000 in revenue for supplying bedroom furniture to the detention sites.
Workers initially kept their complaints internal and pleaded to company leadership in a letter to halt the sale and stop all future business with contractors who would supply to the migrant detention sites. When leadership denied the request, disgruntled employees took it a step further.
On Wednesday, hundreds of employees walked out of work around 1:30 p.m and gathered at Trinity Church in Boston. They were joined by non-Wayfair employees that attended in solidarity. Chants of “Hey hey! Ho ho! ICE contracts have got to go!” rang out.
— Natalie Shure (@nataliesurely) June 26, 2019
I stand with the 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. https://t.co/L3hqbazX4l
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 25, 2019
I stand with the workers at Wayfair who are walking out tomorrow to protest the treatment of asylum seekers at the border. We cannot be a nation that stands for locking up little children. What these workers are doing is brave and necessary. #WayfairWalkout https://t.co/ZMJRfLfPHw
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 25, 2019
The hashtag #WayfairWalkout trended nationally and by Wednesday morning, the accompanying Twitter account had over 22,000 followers.
Eventually, Wayfair leadership decided to soften the blow by announcing they would donate $100,000 to the American Red Cross to support their “effort to help those in dire need of basic necessities at the border.”
Twitter account @WayfairWalkout praised the donation, but pointed out that “the Red Cross has nothing to do with these ICE-operated facilities.”
However, the Red Cross has nothing to do with these ICE-operated facilities.https://t.co/UehtJibmWF
— wayfairwalkout (@wayfairwalkout) June 26, 2019
The donation was made the day after @WayfairWalkout requested the company donate all of its profits from the sale to RAICES, a non-profit that provides legal services to immigrants and refugees.