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Wayfair donates to Red Cross after workers protest sale to migrant detention center

Employees of Wayfair march to Copley Square in protest prior to their rally in Boston, Wednesday, Ju
Employees of Wayfair march in Boston to protest the company’s decision to sell furniture to a government contractor that runs a detention center for migrant children.
(Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

The Red Cross said it has accepted a $100,000 donation from online home furnishings retailer Wayfair.

Wayfair offered the donation after its employees protested its decision to sell $200,000 worth of furniture to a government contractor that runs a detention center for migrant children in Texas.

Several hundred people joined a protest staged by Wayfair employees on Wednesday.

The Boston company refused to retract its sale, but told employees it would donate $100,000 to the Red Cross.

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In a statement, the Red Cross said it was “grateful for Wayfair’s generous donation” and would put the funds toward community-based organizations that are helping with the migrant crisis at the border in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

More than 500 employees at Wayfair’s Boston headquarters signed a protest letter to executives when they found out about the contract. Management wrote in a letter to employees that it’s standard practice to fulfill orders for any customer acting within the law.

“We believe it is our business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws of the countries within which we operate,” the letter said.

The company said it would have no further comment on the protest.

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Wayfair sold the beds to Baptist Children’s Family Services, a nonprofit with federal contracts to manage some of the camps along the border.

“We believe youth should sleep in beds with mattresses,” the organization said in a brief statement.

Madeline Howard, a product manager at Wayfair, said Wednesday that company leaders had held a town hall this week to listen to employee concerns, but would not budge on their stance.

She said the company’s donation to the Red Cross did not satisfy the demands of the employees, who had asked that the profit from the sale — about $86,000 — be donated to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a nonprofit known as RAICES that is the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas.


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