Employees of Wayfair, the e-commerce giant headquartered in Boston, plan to stage a walkout on Wednesday in Copley Square to protest the company’s business with the government contractor BCFS, the company that manages the facilities that detain migrant children along the southern U.S. border.
Late last week, an employee noticed BCFS’ name “pop up” in the company’s system and notified several other employees over the company’s Slack channel, according to an employee and organizer of the walkout who asked to remain anonymous.
The employee said BCFS’ name came up in relation to an order that involved selling $200,000 worth of furniture to a detention center in Carrizo Springs, Texas, which is expected to house 1,600 migrant children seeking asylum in the United States. After seeing the order, the organizers of the walkout first penned a letter voicing their discontent with the company’s ongoing business with BCFS.
“The practice of detaining children and adults at our southern border has been condemned since its inception but since the acceleration of the practice in 2018, and the increase in death and injury that has come with that acceleration, we have seen more vocal condemnation of the practice,” the group wrote in the letter. “We believe that by selling these (or any) products to BCFS or similar contractors we are enabling this violation and are complicit in furthering the inhumane actions of our government.”
On Monday, an anonymous group of Wayfair executives responded to the employees’ grievances, saying that while they respected the employees’ rights to voice their opinions, they did not see anything wrong with selling products to a company that is not engaging in anything illegal.
“As a retailer, it is standard practice to fulfill 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,” company leadership said. “This does not indicate support for the opinions or actions of the groups or individuals who purchase from us.”
Wayfair did not return requests for comments, but confirmed with The Boston Globe that company executives did send the letter.
On Tuesday, several political figures expressed support for the walkout over social media.
“This is what solidarity looks like - a reminder that everyday people have real power, as long as we’re brave enough to use it,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.
The walk-out also garnered the attention of Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who represents the same district Wayfair calls home.
“We must actively #resist any & all efforts by this cruel, incompetent administration to cage children and separate families,” Pressley wrote on Twitter. “I proudly stand in solidarity w/ the hardworking individuals at #Wayfair who are walking out in the name of #justice & humanity.”
The organizer said that while the group is disheartened by the company’s lack of action in response to their letter, they do not fear retribution for participating in the protest. Should Wednesday’s action bring no changes in the company’s calculus, the organizer said that the group plans to continue to push for change, though no formal plans have been made yet for a second event.
“We’re committed to a continued dialogue with our leadership,” the employee said. “While we don’t have an immediate second ask, we’ll certainly regather as a group of colleagues to look at [continuing action].”