Tag Archives | Labor

100 Wal-Mart Workers Arrested In Nationwide Protests Last Week

walmartIncluding three attempting to deliver a petition to a Wal-Mart executive’s Manhattan office. Imagine how awkward that would have been! Buzzfeed reports:

100 Walmart workers protesting low wages and illegal retaliation against strikers were arrested in 11 cities on Thursday. In response to Walmart’s inaction, workers announced widespread, massive strikes and protests will take place on Black Friday in 2013.

The New York Police Department arrested three Walmart strikers who wanted to meet with an executive. The protesters planned to deliver a petition directly to company board member Christopher Williams’ Fifth Avenue office. The petition demands Walmart provide employees with a livable, annual wage of $25,000, and stop punishing workers who stand up for their rights. Walmart fired or disciplined at least 60 strikers who protested in June.

Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg said that these demonstrations are “just a show.”

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It’s Time To Introduce A Global Minimum Wage

global minimum wage

Al Jazeera, Dr. Jason Hickel argues that a global minimum wage is not only just, but doable:

Because of neoliberal economic policies imposed over the past few decades, companies now have the power to rove the globe in search of what CEOs refer to as the “best investment conditions”.

So workers are made to face a stark choice: accept dangerous conditions and minimum wages of $0.21 per hour, or lose their jobs. The constant threat of replacement keeps workers cheap and docile, to the tremendous benefit of corporate profits.

The problem with globalisation is that capital has been globalised while the rules that protect people from it have not. If we’re going to have a global labour market, it stands to reason that we need a global system of labour standards [and] a global minimum wage.

Not only is it now conceivable to have a global minimum wage system, it’s also – for the first time in history – quite doable.

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What I Learned Walking The Picket Line

Picket line in front of Wendy's in the Chicago loop. Photo by Aaron Cynic

Picket line in front of Wendy’s in the Chicago loop. Photo by Aaron Cynic

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Yesterday’s hardest moment came for me when I watched a worker cry. I had been on the streets for about 5 hours with striking workers from the Fight for 15 movement and their supporters, who held a series of actions for two days in conjunction with a national week of strikes and protests to raise the minimum wage. I met the first picket in front of a Subway in the Chicago loop during the morning rush hour where several workers walked off the job. Organizers planned more than twenty pickets spread throughout the financial heart of the city for the day. Hundreds of demonstrators snaked along the sidewalks, stopping in front of retail and fast food outlets to deliver their message – “We can’t survive on $8.25.”

Morning was slowly turning to afternoon and demonstrators lined the sidewalk in front of a Walgreen’s on State and Randolph, a location sandwiched between the Chicago Theater and a Macy’s outlet in the loop.… Read the rest

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Chinese Factory Workers Take Their American CEO Hostage

ceo_chipChip Starnes, CEO of Specialty Medical Supplies, flew to his company’s factory in China to lay off 30 workers as a first step in shifting production to India, where wages are lower. It is difficult to feel sorry for him regarding what subsequently occurred. Via Libcom:

Workers at a medical supplies factory in Beijing, China, have taken the owner of the factory hostage. He has been locked in his office for several days, and subject to sleep deprivation techniques. The action was taken following a dispute over unpaid wages and severance pay.

The factory boss, Chip Starnes, visited the factory last week to lay-off thirty workers. He gave them a redundancy payment and then intended on leaving. As soon as the rest of the workers on shift realised what was happening they thought the entire factory was about to close down and barricaded him in his office.

When interviewed, workers also claimed that their action was also due to unpaid wages over the last few months.

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Smile, Work and Die

Pic: Todd Huffman (CC)

Pic: Todd Huffman (CC)

Via Truthdig:

The 300-plus people killed in the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh this week were not lost to an accident, but are among the many unnecessary victims of predatory, globalized capitalism, argues Vijay Prashad, a professor of South Asian history and the director of international studies at Trinity College in Connecticut.

Prashad informs the moment with an excerpt taken from Karl Marx’s “Capital,” the title referring to the component of the capitalist economy that pushes for maximum industrial output with no consideration for the laborer except that which is required to keep him or her alive and working:

[I]n its blind unrestrainable passion, its wear-wolf [sic] hunger for surplus labour, capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working-day. It usurps the time for growth, development and healthy maintenance of the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight….

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Desperate Letter Describing Chinese Forced Labor Camp Found Inside Halloween Decorations Kit

Imagine if we understood where everything we have came from. Via Oregonian:

The letter came in a box of Halloween decorations purchased at Kmart, a $29.99 graveyard kit. On a Sunday afternoon in October, Julia Keith intended to decorate her home for her daughter’s fifth birthday, days before Halloween. She ripped open the box and threw aside the cellophane. That’s when Keith found it. Scribbled onto paper and folded into eighths, the letter was tucked between two Styrofoam headstones.

“Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”

“People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).”

“People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment).

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From Greenwashing to Workerwashing

Picture: Rion (CC)

You don’t need health benefits and time off, you need a burger and a cola!  David Sirota writes at Creators.com.

Big Industrial Ag pretends to go organic. PC behemoths mimic Apple products. Barack Obama goes to the right of the Republicans on civil liberties. Mitt Romney suddenly portrays himself as a left-leaning moderate on immigration. It seems no matter the arena, the most cliched move in corporate and political combat is to co-opt an opponent’s message, expecting nobody to notice or care.

But as inured as we are to this banality, it’s still shocking to see Corporate America transform the message of organized labor into a sales pitch for … Corporate America. Yes, according to The New York Times last month, that’s what’s happening, as new ads are “tapping into a sense of frustration among workers to sell products.”

One spot for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (read: the casinos) shows a woman climbing onto her desk to demand a vacation.

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Wal-Mart Worker Strikes Expand To 28 Stores In 12 States

There’s trouble in paradise, the New York Times reports:

Protests against Wal-Mart expanded on Tuesday, spreading to 28 stores in 12 states, a union spokesman said.

Mr. Schlademan, director of the union-backed Making Change at Walmart campaign, added that more than 200 employees were traveling to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., to stage a protest on during the company’s annual meeting with financial analysts. He warned that disgruntled Wal-Mart employees, joined by labor unions and community groups, might stage a combined protest and educational campaign the Friday after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

Colby Harris, who earns $8.90 an hour after three years at a Walmart in Lancaster, Tex., said, “We’re protesting because we want better working conditions and better wages and because we want them to stop retaliating against associates who exercise their right to talk about what’s going on in their stores.”

Wal-Mart officials insisted that the protests were publicity stunts rather than strikes, carried out by a tiny fraction of the nation’s 1.4 million Wal-Mart workers.

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Education Is No Cakewalk: The Picket Line Against The 1%

Photo by Ryan Williams (used with permission)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Chicago teachers have been on strike for a week, and two other suburban areas have since followed suit. Predictably, the argument coming from critics of the CTU centers around teachers making too much money, putting children at risk while “whining” about pay, and teachers being some sort of self entitled class uninterested in hard work (re: lazy).

Given that the majority of Americans attended school at some point and more than likely, had at least a few good teachers who helped their education and changed their lives in some positive way, it’s already hard to imagine the cognitive dissonance it takes to make sweeping generalizations about a group of 30,000 people. But, critics of the CTU seem readily able to forget what the classroom looked like in their day with themselves on the other side of the podium, more than likely not always sitting still and paying attention.

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Seeing Red: Why The Chicago Teachers Strike Is The Best Lesson The CTU Could Have Planned

Picture: Basil D. Soufi (CC)

“When the powers that be are shutting you out of your life, you must take a stand. And it’s a lesson that teachers themselves learned from the communities they serve.”

Via The Occupied Chicago Tribune:

When a teachers’ strike started to look like a realistic possibility earlier this spring, CPS Chief Communications Officer Becky Carroll warned the readers of Catalyst, “Any talk of a strike is the wrong message to send our schools, students and taxpayers.” For her, and the rest of the privatization evangelists at CPS, the “right” message is simple—shut up and do what you’re told.

Of course, Carroll, who makes $165,000 per year, isn’t paid that kind of money to tell the truth. Luckily for us, neither Chicago teachers nor the larger education community are giving much credence to CPS talking points.

The corporate education “reformers” have been experimenting on Chicago’s most underserved students and schools for more than two decades, trying any quick-fix makeovers so long as such schemes keep the public out of the discussion on how best to educate our city’s children.

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