Posted on May 15, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Jack Metzgar
Last month a few hundred retail and fast-food workers, from places like Sears, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s, walked off their jobs for a rally in downtown Chicago. Carrying signs saying “Fight for 15” (or “Lucha Por 15”) and “We Are Worth More,” these workers make $9 or $10 an hour, at best, and they figure they’re worth at least $15.
A one-shift walk-out and protest by a few hundred out of the thousands of such workers in the Chicago Loop and along Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile cannot have the economic impact of a traditional strike – one that shuts down an entire workplace or industry for an extended period of time and, therefore, can bend an employer’s will. And these workers’ chances of getting $15 an hour any time soon are worse than slim. This “job action,” bolstered by community supporters organized by Action Now and with help from Service Employees International Union organizers, is more in the nature of a public protest than a “real strike.” You could even call it “a public relations stunt,” but you’d be wrong to dismiss it as inconsequential.
Filed under: Low wage workers | Tagged: "Fight for 15", Charles Morris, Chicago fast food strike, fastfood workers, minority unions, NLRB, Walmart | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 14, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Deadline to apply: May 17, 2013
This summer, the national movement to make change at Walmart will take a giant step forward. In the tradition of the 1964 Freedom Summer and the UFW’s grape boycott, a deeply committed group of labor, student and community supporters will spend the summer building local OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) support teams across the country that demonstrate the broad, growing movement calling on Walmart to change. The program will run from June 15th – Labor Day.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: Making Change at Walmart (MCAW), OurWalmart, Walmart | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 4, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Workers wrapped in mock shrouds protested in San Francisco, decrying horrific inattention to safety by retailers like GAP and Walmart. Since 2006, close to 1,000 garment workers in Bangladesh have died in factory disasters at the retailers’ suppliers. Photo: Marc Norton.
by Marc Norton
When terrorist bombers killed three people in Boston on April 15, the FBI moved heaven and earth to find and apprehend those responsible. When Walmart’s suppliers in Bangladesh killed over 380 people, at last count, in one of their garment factory death traps on April 24, the FBI sat on their hands, despite the fact that those responsible – Walmart’s Board of Directors – are well known and could be easily apprehended.
Walmart ranges the globe searching for cheap labor for its goods, leaving death and destruction in its wake. What is the difference between Walmart’s actions and terrorists planting bombs? Both sets of criminals know that they will create carnage among the innocent. Is the murderous search for profit at any cost less criminal than placing a bomb?
Filed under: Global organizing, Solidarity | Tagged: Bangladesh garment workers, Latino Community Foundation, Rana Plaza collapse, Tazreen garment factory, Walmart | 2 Comments »
Posted on April 25, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Harold Meyerson
Yesterday—April 24th—was a red-letter day in the annals of worker mobilization in post-collective-bargaining America. In Chicago, hundreds of fast-food and retail employees who work in the Loop and along the Magnificent Mile called a one-day strike and demonstrated for a raise to $15-an-hour and the right to form a union. At more than 150 Wal-Mart stores across the nation, workers and community activists called on the chain to regularize employees’ work schedules. And under pressure from an AFL-CIO-backed campaign of working-class voters who primarily aren’t union members, the county supervisors of New Mexico’s Bernalillo County voted to raise the local minimum wage.
The Chicago demonstration, which began in the dawn’s early light of 5:30 a.m., included workers at McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Subway, as well as Macy’s, Sears, and Victoria’s Secret, all of whom make the state minimum wage ($8.25) or just slightly more. Roughly one-third of the jobs in Chicago are low-wage, and more than half of the city’s low-wage workers are older than 30. The demonstration was organized by the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, which formed to demand a living wage for the city’s retail and fast-food workers.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: AFL-CIO, SEIU, Working America, United Food and Commercial Workers, Walmart, Chicago fast food strike, Workers Organizing Committee | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 29, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Laura Clawson
While Walmart has added 455 stores in the past five years, it has cut its workforce by about 20,000. Workers complain that they’re too short-staffed to move products from the stockrooms to the aisles, while customers complain that they can’t find basic goods, leading some to shop at competitors. Diarist FishOutofWater highlights a contrast with a competitor that’s taken a very different approach to its workers:
Costco’s CEO recently argued to raise the minimum wage, but Walmart management is attempting to keep labor costs at rock bottom levels. Apparently Walmart’s efforts to minimize labor costs are backfiring. Costco’s better paid employees are happier and more productive. Higher worker productivity at Costco is making up for the difference in wage rates.x
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: Our Walmart, Walmart | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 5, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Sam Stark
The people were united and Walmart was defeated.
That’s how the story went Jan. 28 when THE corporate poster child for the low-wage road to higher profits ran smack into an organized movement of community residents as the company sought a rezoning of property at 12 Mile and Southfield Roads [Southfield is just north of Eight Mile Road, which is the dividing line between Detroit and the northern suburbs.]
A rezoning by the Southfield City Council would have allowed Walmart to build a 130,124 square foot superstore where a closed Catholic church, St. Bede, has stood for five years.
Filed under: Low wage workers | Tagged: Michigan, Walmart | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 24, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Leo Gerard
USW President Leo Gerard
Oddly, the top international cyclist – Lance Armstrong – and the top international retailer –Wal-Mart – revealed last week that they have much in common.
No, not doping.
It’s their dopey concept of the atonement process.
Armstrong, already punished for misdeeds he’d denied, took to television on Thursday to finally confess. But he didn’t apologize. He didn’t follow the redemption steps: admission and regret; a pledge to reform and a plea for forgiveness, then penance. Wal-Mart didn’t follow those steps either. Its CEO made national news last week when he announced the retail giant would hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years and buy $50 billion more in American-made products over the next 10. But Wal-Mart has never admitted wrongdoing or expressed remorse.
Filed under: Organizing | Tagged: Bangladesh, Lance Armstrong, Walmart | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 8, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Harold Meyerson
(Jan 2)Friday’s Wall Street Journal reported that Wal-Mart “is planning to monitor subcontractors’ U.S. warehouses, in the same way it tries to police conditions at suppliers’ factories around the globe.”
For the more than half-million Americans who work in warehouses like those that supply Wal-Mart—the Labor Department puts their number at 672,000—this is modestly good news. As the Prospect has been reporting since 2009, Wal-Mart and America’s other discount retailers don’t employ their warehouse workers directly. In the Ontario-Fontana exurbs of Los Angeles, where half the imports that come into the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors are trucked to be unloaded, arranged on pallets, and retrucked to Wal-Mart and kindred stores for a thousand miles around, the warehouses themselves are owned by property management companies, and they’re run by logistics companies with which Wal-Mart and other retailers contract. But the logistics companies aren’t the workers’ employers of record. Rather, some 270 temporary employment agencies in the areas are the workers’ legal employers. Some of the workers I interviewed had gone through dozens of such employers, even though they had worked at the same job in the same warehouse for more than a decade.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Workplace health and safety | Tagged: supply chain, Walmart, warehouse workers | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 8, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Laura Clawson
Walmart CEO Michael Duke recently had this to say to the Council on Foreign Relations:
“We will not buy from an unsafe factory,” Mr. Duke told the audience. “If a factory is not going to operate with high standards, then we would not purchase from that factory.”
There’s one huge problem with that: It’s not true. Walmart demonstrably does buy from unsafe factories, it’s just that when things go wrong it tries to deny that it knew it was buying from them. And its entire system of supposedly monitoring and preventing unsafe conditions is a sham, as Steven Greenhouse and Jim Yardley detail. At the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh where more than 100 workers died in a November fire:
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing, Uncategorized, Workplace health and safety | Tagged: supply chain, Walmart | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 1, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Joe Burns
The end of the year labor summations are coming in and it is generally a mixed bag, with the perspectives dependent on how much weight one gives to the success of right wing political efforts. Those focusing more on the political efforts, see a 2012 as a bad year. Others focusing more on the fight back are more hopeful.
Indeed, if one only looks at the immediate wins and losses, the column for this year would clearly stack up on the side of the employers. Employers used the weak economy and low union density as means to aggressively press their advantage on the bargaining and political front. With the employer lockouts at record levels, labor continues to be on the bargaining defensive, even in remaining union strongholds, such as long shore.
The combativeness and courage of workers continued to be inspiring in 2012. Workers in a variety of industries endured lockouts or strikes to defend retiree health benefits and resist other concessions. In one particularly bitter struggle, locked out Crystal Sugar workers in Fargo North Dakota rejected for the fourth time their employer’s concessionary demand.
The tally of immediate gains and losses, however, should be only part of the measure of the year’s success. Another standard is whether we are any closer to developing an effective strategy to combat capital’s assault. By this measure, 2012 was a very good year.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing, Strikes and work action | Tagged: Chicago Teachers Strike, Crystal Sugar, Hot and Crusty, Walmart | 3 Comments »