Wayfair staff to walk out over sales to detention centres

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US staff at furniture giant Wayfair are planning to walk out after the firm sold furnishings to border camps used to detain immigrants.

The protest is expected to involve hundreds of workers at the firm’s Boston headquarters.

More than 500 staff signed a letter urging the firm to “cease all business with border camps”.

The move comes as the Trump administration faces scrutiny over conditions at the camps.

Wayfair allegedly sold more than $200,000 (£157,690) in bedroom furniture to a detention centre for migrant children in Texas, according to employees.

“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 20,000 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.

‘Standard practice’

Wayfair’s management has responded to its employees, but it has not agreed to change its business practices.

The furniture giant’s leadership team thanked employees for sharing their concerns, but it said that it was important to “respect diversity of thought” within the company and across its customer base.

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.”

Wayfair’s shares fell 5.3% on Tuesday and slipped further in pre-market trading on Wednesday.

The BBC has contacted Wayfair for comment, but has not had a response.

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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