Laid off Colton workers list Ashley Furniture shortcomings at Labor … – San Bernardino County Sun

COLTON >> Several former Ashley Furniture Store employees who were recently laid off allege they were harassed and treated unfairly when they tried to form a union at the recently shuttered warehouse.

At a protest Monday afternoon in front of the Colton store, a group of at least 100 gathered on the sidewalk and spilled into the street in front of store on Labor Day. Some waived the American flag while others held up signs that read “We want justice for the workers,” and “Ashley lied, 800 jobs died.”

About 840 employees at the Ashley Furniture HomeStore factory/warehouse at 855 Ashley Way — where love seats and sofas were assembled — were laid off Aug. 26.

“They always said we were a family, but they never demonstrated it,” said Armando Sanchez who had worked for the company for 18 years. “They always said we weren’t just building furniture, we were building dreams to share with other people. Those dreams have turned into my nightmare.”

Ashley Furniture could not be reached for comment Monday, a federal holiday. In a previous statement, the company said the majority of production in Colton will move to U.S. plants in Wisconsin, Mississippi and North Carolina, “where we can tap into existing capacity and increase efficiency.”

The company said it gave the employees 60 days notice and complied with federal regulations governing layoffs.

According to former employees, there was an effort to form a union between February and November 2015 but fell short of the necessary votes.

Claudia Munoz, who worked for Ashley Furniture in the polymill for four years, said she would often meet with at least 200 employees during their breaks to answer any questions they had about forming a union. In turn, she said she was harassed by human resources.

Just before the November vote, Munoz said their supervisor promised them job security and higher wages, but after seeing little improvements since the vote, employees were once again moving toward forming a union.

“They let us go and they couldn’t even say thank you to our face. We gave our life and health to Ashley and this is how we’re paid? It’s injustice,” she said, speaking in Spanish.

Community leader and labor attorney Eloise Reyes said she believes the employees’ efforts to form a union was one of the contributing factors to closing the warehouse.

Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, urged the more than 100 former employees gathered Monday to stick together. She told the workers they had the right to try and form a union, and if the furniture-maker violated any labor laws, she said she “will do whatever is it that we need to do.”

“When a company like Ashley will not allow their workers to organize, and they shut the doors, what are they saying?” she asked the crowd gathered around a podium. “They are saying they don’t care about you. They are worried about you because all you want to do is band together as workers. As workers, you can accomplish more and that’s you’re right to do that.”

After the employees were terminated, they came to Reyes looking for assistance. The former employees will be meeting at the Carousel Mall in front of the Democratic offices to see what resources are available as well as job training and placement opportunities, she said.

“The injustice is really something that needs to be remedied,” she said. “I think the fact they are not being given answers is wrong.”


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