Wayfair CEOs Donate $100,000 to Red Cross As Hundreds Protest Migrant Detention Contract

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As promised, hundreds of Wayfair employees walked off their jobs on Wednesday afternoon in protest of the company’s decision to sell more than $200,000 in bedroom furniture to a contractor running a migrant detention center in Texas.

Workers based out of the company’s Boston headquarters abandoned their posts at 1:30 p.m. and gathered in nearby Copley Square, many holding signs with messages like “A prison with a bed is still a prison” and “workers say no to child detention!” CNN estimates that protesters numbered around 500, though it’s unclear what percentage of the crowd is affiliated with Wayfair.

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The walkout followed a letter from 547 employees expressing concern over the company’s decision to sell more than $200,000 in bedroom furniture to contractor BCFS, which would be used to furnish a 3,000-person child detention facility in Carrizo Springs, TX.

On Tuesday, the Twitter account @wayfairwalkout, which purportedly represents the workers, asked that Wayfair donate the $86,000 profit it allegedly made off the sale to Raices, a Texas non-profit that organizes legal services for refugees and immigrants.

In a letter sent to employees on Wednesday, Wayfair co-founders Steve Conine and Niraj Shah wrote that they “care a great deal about humanitarian issues,” saying that the company has provided “millions of dollars to support a variety of charities,” citing Habitat for Humanity and Homes for Our Troops as examples. It then said it would make a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross “in order to help those in dire need of basic necessities at the border.”

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It’s unclear why Conine and Shah chose to donate to the Red Cross, a bloated organization that seems to routinely mismanage its funds, instead of a local group with a proven history of successfully helping its clients.

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Still, the donation represents a shift from leadership’s earlier position. During a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Conine said he personally objected to the detention centers, but that to take action as a company would tread on a “slippery slope.”

“The level of your citizenship as citizens is really the appropriate channel to try and attack an issue like this. To pull a business into it—we’re not a political entity. We’re not trying to take a political side.”

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