Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Big Box Bullies

One labor arena in which local communities find it difficult to make progress is in the national retail chain stores. They're so huge, they don't often respond to local pressure. This is why some communities, like New York City, are adamant about not letting chains like WalMart in at all. As the manufacturing base in the U.S. is outsourced to low-wage countries, millions are forced to work for peanuts at big-box stores like Home Depot or Target. What's it like?

Let's hear from one former Target employee:

I worked at Target for about 4 years of my life. I believe it was during my second year review I was given an $0.11 raise for a lame reason. I worked in the back room which has hundreds, if not thousands, of locations for products. The reason I was not given a full raise was because the manager said "If I asked you for an item you couldn't go in the back and already know where it was exactly located." We crammed so many items in each box in so many different locations not even the second coming of Jesus would know where they were. The manager's name was Jared and he had a Creed tattoo on his shoulder.

About unions: While I was never subject to any union videos or talks there was a group that was, the Hispanics. The people who showed up at Target to work at 5 am every day were the elderly and the Hispanics. When they would get off work the old people would leave, probably to eat dinner at 1 pm, while the Hispanics would usually hang out in the parking lot with each other talking and having fun. This quickly caught the eye of the management who immediately jumped to the conclusion that they were trying to form a union. There was a panic amongst the upper level workers and all the Hispanics were taken aside one day and given the unions are bad speech. I just remember trying not to work and laughing at management running around like chickens missing a head.

Fear of unions on the part of employers keeps life from becoming even worse than it is already for American workers. If, God forbid, the last union in America is busted, within days the NLRB will be abolished. Higher pay for overtime, paid sick days, holidays, child labor laws will all disappear. This is obviously bad for workers, but is also not good news for the professional classes. There will simply never be enough super wealthy people to keep all of today's restaurateurs, dry-cleaners, lawyers, orthodontists, and college professors in business. The collapse of our lower middle class will also signal the demise of the upper middle class.

Please explain this to your neighbors. The deal on offer from our current crop of politicians is O.K. for the top 2% of Americans-- terrific for the top .o1%. For the rest of us in the Other 98%, my advice is simple: don't give what money you have left to mainstream politicians. Work hard to revive and expand the political and economic power of working people. There is no higher priority. Of course we should continue to demand marriage equality and other important social goals. But if the price for gaining those ends is selling our souls to the plutocrats, then the price is too high.

I'll never stop loving the creative hippies pushing our society forward. But right now we need to stand in solidarity with working people, even those not firmly committed to all of our progressive causes. After the coming fascist coup d'etat, it will be small consolation to tell ourselves that at least we refused to mingle with any ignorant Teamsters or Steelworkers. You know what? Maybe this person didn't vote for McGovern 40 years ago. That's water under the bridge. In 2011, our union brothers and sisters are very literally the only folks left standing to prevent the U.S. from becoming a nation of the 1%, for the 1%, and by the 1%. Don't stand on the sidelines. Boycott Walmart, buy union-made, help to recall Gov. Walker in Wisconsin! Solidarity!! (Thanks for your patience with this rant)


Underground Politics said...

You made some very good points in your rant Ulysses. We do need solidarity among the middle class. It would be sweet if we could come up with a list of companies who are antiunion to help spread the word.

And you should check out this video, feel free to share and spread the word:

Ulysses said...

Thanks, Underground. The list of companies who aren't anti-union would be a lot shorter! LOL We should definitely tell people who some of the worst offenders are: FedEx, Koch Brothers, Walmart, Comcast, Microsoft... One of the largest union-busting law firms in the world is Jackson Lewis (www.jacksonlewis.com) Googling the cases they're involved in is a good way to learn quickly who the most aggressive union-busters are.

I have to say that you, Motivated, and Cletis are all going like gangbusters! What a treat it is to see your blogs each day.

Underground Politics said...

I'll have to check that company out. And you're right about that list of the union friendly companies, lol.

Motivated In Ohio said...

All wages are tied to Unions. Union or not, we need to stand with the unions and help our fellow citizens.

Cletis L. Stump said...

My dad helped establish the UMWA in Virginia and Kentucky. I am literally union made and proud to be the son of a coal miner and his beautiful and fiery wife, my mother.