Unbelievable: Wayfair Walkout and Workplace Activism

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Occupy the Workplace?

On Friday, Wayfair employees sent a letter to senior management threatening a workplace walkout. The walkout was to protest an order received from BCFS. BCFS is one of the non-profit organizations under contract to manage illegal alien housing shelters. According to the Boston Globe, the offending $200,000 order was for beds and furniture to outfit a new Texas shelter.

Over 500 outraged Wayfair employees signed the letter demanding (1) the order be cancelled and (2) stop all commerce with BCFS. The letter was highly political. Despite recent pleas for progressives to refrain from incendiary Holocaust language, the protesters claimed to be motivated by: “concern and anger about the atrocities being committed at the Southern border.”

Wayfair Responds to Outrageous Demands

Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah responded quickly, sending his own letter on Monday.  In it he rejected protesters’ demands and defended free speech. Shah also reminded his employees, disgruntled and otherwise, of Wayfair’s purpose. Following are excerpts from Shah’s letter:

“We believe in the importance of respecting diversity of thought within our organization and across our customer base. No matter how strongly any one of us feels about an issue, it is important to keep in mind that not all employees or customers agree. Your fellow employees hold a wide range of opinions and perspectives and Wayfair, as a mass-market brand, is oriented to serve a broad and diverse customer base.”

Shah added in closing: “As a retailer, it is standard practice to fulfill [all] orders for all customers and we believe it is our business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws of the countries within which we operate.”

Never Let a Good Crisis Go To Waste

The protesters deemed Shah’s response inadequate and a new demand arose. The profits generated from the $200,000 order, an estimated $86,000, should be “donated to the nonprofit Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, (RAICES). Such a request reeks of an “extortion” demand but cash is a common remedy for liberal injuries; ask Jessie Jackson.

Celebrity Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY)  Tweeted her support: “Wayfair workers couldn’t stomach they were making beds to cage children, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted on Tuesday. “They asked the company to stop. CEO said no.”

“Tomorrow, they‘re walking out,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “This is what solidarity looks like — a reminder that everyday people have real power, as long as we’re brave enough to use it.”

Back in Realville

Wayfair’s stock dropped 5% on Tuesday. Head of Hill Impact, the crisis-management specialist, Dave Hill said, “Once you start opening yourselves up to doing evaluations of sales according to public-policy issues, and things that go beyond legal concerns, it becomes very complicated. Their stockholders aren’t going to be OK with them making unilateral decisions based on political skirmishes…”

A comment on Wayfair’s website went further: Said Jessica:I am disappointed to hear that your company’s employees think that selling furniture to a dentition center on the border that is TRYING its best to uphold The LAW of the land is wrong…What kind of company is this? I want answers.”

To quell the storm and quiet protesters, late Wednesday, Wayfair management offered to donate $100,000 to the Red Cross, a less political organization. Tweets, emails and phone calls are still flying, but Wayfair said, “We have no further comment on the protests.” We’ll see if Wayfair has just what these kids need.

Wayfair walkout

Author Profile

Steve Hartkopf
Steve Hartkopf
Steve Hartkopf is a writer for NRN, a retired executive, a political commentator, and the author of two books. Married to the same wonderful woman for 40 years, Hartkopf is happily playing with and learning from five glorious grandchildren.