Abby Martin discusses the US federal minimum wage law and calls out the top five corporations, such as Target, McDonalds and Yum Brands that refuse to pay their workers a living wage despite posting record profits and generously compensating their CEOs. Abby then speaks with RT political commentator, Sam Sacks, about Wal-Mart’s shady business practices, the decision by the National Labor Relations Board to go after the company for illegally firing workers after they decided to protest the store’s wage policies last year and the corporation’s decision to build six new stores in the District of Columbia.
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On Black Friday, peaceful protest is a jailable offense, while violent mobs are acceptable so long as they are spending money. Rania Khalek writes:
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The treatment of peaceful protesters compared to the unruly and sometimes violent crowds of stampeding Black Friday shoppers couldn’t be more different. While the former is ostracized and forcibly removed by police, the latter is encouraged to come out for a competitive brawl over marked off goods. Nowhere is this contrast more clearly defined than in the police treatment of Walmart protesters over the last 24 hours.
On Friday, at least 1,000 Walmart employees throughout the country walked off the job to protest Walmart’s poor labor practices. Local police departments have been happy to disperse and even arrest strikers and their supporters on behalf of the world’s largest retailer.
At a Walmart store in Paramount, just outside of Los Angeles, some 1,500 people rallied against Walmart. Josh Eidelson, live-blogging about the Walmart strikes at The Nation, reports that “Nine people have been arrested for sitting in the street on Lakewood Boulevard, including three striking Walmart retail workers from area stores.
There’s trouble in paradise, the New York Times reports:
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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.
Via Buzzfeed, activist Daneyvilla took an snapped photos as a veritable army of riot police cracked down on a demonstration by several hundred completely peaceful, largely middle-aged Walmart warehouse employees. From the workers’ website, the reason for the strike:
No one should come to work and endure extreme temperatures, inhale dust and chemical residue, and lift thousands of boxes weighing up to 250lbs with no support. Workers never know how long the work day will be- sometimes its two hours, sometimes its 16 hours. Injuries are common, as is discrimination against women and illegal retaliation against workers who speak up for better treatment.
From destruction comes regeneration. A photo essay via Web Urbanist
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There are thousands of abandoned big box stores sitting empty all over America, including hundreds of former Walmart stores. With each store taking up enough space for 2.5 football fields, Walmart’s use of more than 698 million square feet of land in the U.S. is one of its biggest environmental impacts. But at least one of those buildings has been transformed into something arguably much more useful: the nation’s largest library.
Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle transformed an abandoned Walmart in McAllen, Texas, into a 124,500-square-foot public library, the largest single-floor public library in the United States.
The library even has an acoustically separated lounge for teens as well as 6 teen computer labs, 16 public meeting spaces, 14 public study rooms, 64 computer labs, 10 children’s computer labs and 2 genealogy computer labs. Other new features include self check-out units, an auditorium, an art gallery, a used bookstore and a cafe.
At prices this low, how could you expect the food not to be laced with insecticide? Russia Today reports:
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America’s largest bio-agriculture company and the biggest retailer in the country are joining forces. Walmart will soon be stocking their shelves with GMO corn made by Monsanto.
The retail giant says they won’t advertise which of their products are made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which could become a big problem very soon. Zack Kaldveer explains in an editorial published by the California Progress Report this month that Walmart will soon sell a special factory-made corn manufactured by Monsanto, which while it will allow most of Americans more easy access to affordable food, will also fill them with unknown insecticides: the very GMO crop Walmart will be selling has been genetically engineered to include chemicals right inside the corn.
Voters in California will decide later this year if retailers on the West Coast will be legally bound to correctly label all foodstuffs sold in shopping centers that are made from genetically modified foods.
Only in America folks! Xeni Jardin recounts this nutty Walmart meth cooking story at BoingBoing:
Apparently, corporate profits just aren’t enough for some global megabusinesses these days: a Walmart store in South St. Louis County, Missouri was emptied by police when an “active methamphetamine production laboratory” was discovered inside.
Now, it’s entirely possible that the “lab” consisted of an empty plastic bottle and some chemicals, but still, you guys: some tweeker was cooking crystal inside a freakin’ Walmart…
UPDATE: It gets weirder. This local news report further clarifies that a woman detained for shoplifting at the Walmart “began to make meth in the loss prevention office.”
Now that is baller. You’re busted for shoplifting, placed in what amounts to a holding cell inside the store, and how do you kill time? Makin’ ice!…
[continues at BoingBoing]
NBC Los Angeles reports on some Black Friday action. Over the past two months, in our society, pepper spraying anyone, anytime to get what you want has become completely normalized:
A customer shot pepper spray at other customers at a busy Northridge Wal-Mart store late Thursday night, causing minor injuries to at least 10 people who had been waiting hours for Black Friday savings, according to Los Angeles firefighters and a police lieutenant. The Associated Press later reported 20 injuries.
A witness told NBC4 that the incident started as people waited in line for the new Xbox 360. The witness said a woman with two children in tow became upset with the way people were pushing in line. The witness said she pulled out pepper spray and sprayed the other people in line.
It appeared only one person would need to be transported to a hospital for treatment.