Apparently these are people who fear losing their jobs. Probably they have themselves and family members to support and don't think that they can easily get another job if they lose the one they have.
As usual, there was no manager with a key to let Mr. Rodriguez out. The fire exit, he said, was hardly an option -- management had drummed into the overnight workers that if they ever used that exit for anything but a fire, they would lose their jobs.
And leaving could also jeopardize the jobs of their coworkers:
Mr. Rodriguez acknowledged that the seemingly obvious thing to have done after breaking his ankle was to leave by the fire door, but he and two dozen other Wal-Mart and Sam's Club workers said they had repeatedly been warned never to do that unless there was a fire. Leaving for any other reason, they said, could jeopardize the jobs of the offending employee and the night supervisor.
I don't know if Walmart still does this:
Wal-Mart officials said they cracked down on that practice after an overnight stocker at a store in Savannah, Ga., collapsed and died in 1988. Paramedics could not get into the store soon enough because the employees inside could not open the fire door or front door, and there was no manager with a key.
''We certainly do not do that now,'' Ms. Williams said. ''It's not been that way for a long time.''
This type of employee abuse should have been nipped in the bud by federal, state, or local labor authorities, but apparently it wasn't.