This article appeared in the June 26, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Wayfair walkout: When do sales decisions become an employee concern?

Katie Penfield/The Christian Science Monitor
Kelsey Barowich (l.) and Maria Blanco hold protest signs in Copley Square to support the walkout protest for Wayfair workers June 26 in Boston. They are protesting against the company’s agreement to sell beds to detention centers that hold migrant children.

Welcome. In today’s edition, some stories you won’t want to miss: The “electability” debate behind the Democratic debates; the question of allegation fatigue on sexual assault; tourists and safety in the Dominican Republic; progress on child mortality; and a reporter’s encounter with a famous, and receding, glacier.

First, a noteworthy happening in the Monitor’s backyard today. 

The border crisis just got personal for some office workers who live very far from Texas. Many employees of the online retailer Wayfair walked off the job to protest in Boston’s Copley Square, saying the company shouldn’t be selling beds for use in border detention facilities. 

It may sound counterintuitive: Aren’t mattresses better than concrete floors? But news of Wayfair’s sale landed just as humanitarian concern for those detained – notably children – have flared anew nationwide. Candice Woodson, a Boston worker who came out to show solidarity with the Wayfair walkout, put it this way to Monitor reporter Thomas Shults: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you’ve chosen the side of the oppressor.”

“I don’t support companies profiting off the incarceration of children, so I came out here,” another Boston protester told our reporter Danny Jin.

The company has stood by what it says is its standard practice: selling legal goods to legal customers (in this case a nonprofit that contracted with the U.S. government to house detained children). It’s a complex situation. Beds aren’t barbed wire, for one thing. But today’s drama is an example of a growing debate about the role corporations should play on questions of societal or political values. We’re planning a deeper dive on that later this week.  

Meanwhile, we’ll also keep watching the other aspects of border and immigration policy, such as congressional funding and the instability in Central America, that lie at the root of recent migration.

This article appeared in the June 26, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 06/26 edition
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