Business

Wayfair staff to walk out over sales to detention centres

Wayfair protesters Image copyright Getty Images

Hundreds of US staff at furniture giant Wayfair have walked out after the firm sold furnishings to border camps in Texas used to detain immigrants.

Employees gathered outside Wayfair's Boston HQ after more than 500 staff signed a letter urging the firm to "cease all business with border camps".

Wayfair sold about $200,000 (£157,690) in bedroom furniture to a detention centre for migrant children.

The Trump administration faces widespread criticism over the camps.

"We believe that 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 part of," staff wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Wayfair's management.

"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."

Almost 22,000 people have followed a Twitter account, @wayfairwalkout, set up for the protest, and staff from other Wayfair sites across the country have posted in a Facebook event asking how they can support the protest.

Some in the crowd carried signs with messages including "a cage is not a home" and "a prison with a bed is still a prison".

'Standard practice'

On Tuesday, Wayfair wrote in a letter to employees, circulated by staff on Twitter: "As a retailer, it is standard practice to fulfil 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.

"We believe all our stakeholders, employees, customers, investors and suppliers included, are best served by our commitment to fulfil all orders. This does not indicate support for the opinions or actions of the groups or individuals who purchase from us."

There were reports that the company is donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross. The company has yet to respond to a BBC request for comment.

Wayfair's shares fell 5.3% on Tuesday, but were up 1% on Wednesday.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined in the conversation on social media.

She posted on Twitter: "I stand with 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."

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