Archive for November, 2013

WALMART

From California to New Jersey, more than 100 protesters were arrested at Black Friday demonstrations against retail giant Walmart this holiday weekend. The protests came just a week after two Ohio Walmarts made the news for having food drives for its employees who couldn’t afford a Thanksgiving dinner on the wages paid by the nation’s largest grocer.

Many observers noted that it was bad enough that the American taxpayer is forced to subsidize Walmart’s profits by paying for its employees to get food stamps, housing benefits and other government assistance: now the corporation is begging its customers to donate food to its low wage workers too?

On Friday protesters called on Walmart, which is poised to rake in $469 billion this year, to raise wages and provide more benefits to its 2.2 million employees. Thousands of demonstrators — which included Walmart workers, their supporters and union organizers — also called on the corporation to stop retaliating against workers who complained or protested. Last month the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that the company had violated its workers’ rights for cracking down on employees who participated in Black Friday protests in 2012.

Even more demonstrators participated in this year’s protests, which also drew more media attention as a result of the food drives and the NLRB decision.

  • 13 protesters were arrested outside a Secaucus, NJ Walmart
  • 20 people were arrested in California’s Bay Area; 15 at a store in Roseville, 5 in San Leandro
  • 13 protesters were led away in handcuffs at a store in Balch Springs, Texas (outside Dallas)
  • 26 people were arrested for protesting outside a Walmart in St. Paul, Minn.
  • 15 protesters each were arrested in Sacramento, Calif. and Seattle, Wash.
  • 10 people were arrested near a Walmart in Ontario, Calif.
  • Arrests were also reported in Washington D.C. and Chicago
  • Union leaders who helped organize the protests told the Associated Press that 110 people were arrested at 1,500 protests nationwide
  • A Walmart spokesman told the AP only 20 of its stores were targeted for protests

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I’m here to tell Wal-Mart corporation to stop bullying the associates, starting giving us a living wage so we can provide for our families,” said Daniel Coles, 50. “Also to stop them from telling people that we make 25k.”Coles told the Los Angeles Times he supports his 75-year-old mother and 54-year-old sister.”I am the only one who is working in my family. I’m the sole provider,” he said. “We [Walmart employees] struggle to make it. Struggle to pay the bills, pay my rent on time, put food on the table.”

Black Friday is a big stage, and we’re one of the biggest players in the retail industry,” David Tovar, a Walmart spokesman, wrote in a statement. “We’re not surprised that those trying to change our industry are using this platform to get their message out, and we respect their right to be heard.”

I think we got our message across, and people listened,” Isaiah Beaman, 21, told The Guardian. Beaman is a Walmart worker in Landover, Maryland, who travelled to Alexandria in Virginia to join about 200 protesters there. “All we want is for Walmart to give us a living wage and show us some respect – that’s not too much to ask from a multi-billion dollar company.”

Norma Torres, a Democratic state senator in California who took part in a rally outside a Walmart store in her district of Pomona, told The Guardian that the workers “refuse to live in fear and refuse to accept the scraps which they are being paid. They don’t want a hand-out, they want a decent wage for their hard work.”

We’re here to support Walmart workers, to help them get a living wage for their families, to be able to get days off on the holidays without being fired like everyone else has,” SEIU Local 668 Chairman William Wilson told The Patriot-News. “They were open at 6 p.m. last night when people should be eating their Thanksgiving dinner. Their CEO needs to have respect for the workers who make them millions of dollars.”

I make enough to support my daughter,” Walmart customer service manager Crystal Zerr told The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “I have a roof over my head, food on the table and I still have enough left over at the end of the month for little extras.”

Those Walmart employees are courageous because they are taking a great risk and they are stepping up and bringing the truth about the plight of millions of workers to the American people,” Bob Herbert, distinguished fellow at Demos in New York told the International Business Times.

We are out in force today,” Dorothy Halverson, a Walmart worker based in Placerville, Calif., told Al Jazeera America. “Our voices are stronger than ever before. I am nervous, but I refuse to live in fear. And we refuse to continue trying to make it on Walmart’s low pay, manipulative scheduling and retaliation.”

A message needs to be sent to the company,” said Robin Edwards, a former Wal-Mart employee who spoke at a protest in suburban Detroit. “We’re standing with the Wal-Mart workers and support them — and we’re here to fight for a higher minimum wage.”

For our part, we want to be absolutely clear about our jobs, the pay and benefits we offer our associates, and the role retail jobs play in the U.S. economy,” David Tovar, a Walmart spokesman, wrote in a statement. “Walmart provides wages on the higher end of the retail average with full-time and part-time associates making, on average, close to $12.00 an hour. The majority of our workforce is full-time, and our average full-time hourly pay is $12.81 an hour. We are also proud of the benefits we offer our associates, including affordable health care, performance-based bonuses, education benefits, and access to a 401K.”

Tony Rohr.Pizza Hut.ThanksgivingAfter more than 10 years on the job, a manager at an Indiana Pizza Hut and working-class-hero Tony Rohr, lost his job for refusing to open his store on Thanksgiving. Rohr worked at a store owned by a franchisee, who rehired him after the corporation strongly encouraged them to do so.

I said, ‘Why can’t we be the company that stands up and says we care about our employees, and they can have the day off?’ Rohr told local CBS affiliate WSTB. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two days that they’re closed in the whole year, and they’re the only two days that those people are guaranteed to have off and spend it with their families.

The franchise owners didn’t like Rohr’s defiant tone. They told him he could either open the store or write his letter of resignation. He refused, instead writing a letter of protest explaining why he wouldn’t voluntarily resign or comply with an order to open his store on Thanksgiving.

I am not quitting. I do not resign, however I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company. I hope you realize that it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible.

The corporation distanced itself from the franchise owners after Rohr’s story went viral, saying the situation “could and should have been avoided,” adding “We fully respect an employee’s right to not work on a holiday.” Rohr’s story, was picked up by national news outlets after a local news station ran a piece featuring him, prompting Pizza Hut to issue this statement on Thanksgiving morning:

As follow up to the situation in Elkhart, IN, we feel strongly that the situation involving our independent franchisee and the local store manager could and should have been avoided. We fully respect an employee’s right to not work on a holiday, which is why the vast majority of Pizza Huts in America are closed on Thanksgiving. As a result, we strongly recommended that the local franchisee reinstate the store manager and they have agreed. We look forward to them welcoming Tony back to the team.

ronald mcdonald makes baby cryMcDonald’s — which rakes in billions of dollars in profits each year and notoriously pays its 700,000 workers poverty wages — is offering employees some advice for staying afloat, since the corporation can’t afford to raise their pay.

Before you watch the video below, see if you can guess which one of these callous suggestions the fast-food juggernaut did NOT offer its employees as helpful tips for surviving on minimum wage:

  • Are you stressed out from working two or three fast-food jobs and still not earning enough to feed, clothe and care for your family? Try taking two vacations each year. Taking time off work reduces stress and improves heart health.
  • Oh, wait… You can’t really afford to take time off work because you’re a wage slave. Have you tried singing? That can help take the edge off.
  • We know you can’t make ends meet. Hell, that’s our fault. But have you considered selling some of your possessions on Craigslist or eBay?
  • What’s that? You’ve already sold everything except the clothes on your back and the fillings in your teeth? I guess if you want those luxuries, there’s only one thing left to say: Quit complaining. Griping about your lot in life doesn’t improve anything, it only adds to your stress level.

Hey! You cheated. You already watched the video, so you know that these unbelievably out-of-touch suggestions all come straight from a McDonald’s Web site.

Aaron AlbrightAaron Albright, Communications Director for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has been tapped by the Obama administration as the new spokesman for HeatlhCare.gov.

Albright has a degree in journalism from The George Washington University.

The Indiana native also has questionable taste in film.

And cuisine.

HealthCare.gov gets new spokesman – POLITICO.com.

spn_exposed_mapThe Center for Media and Democracy did a press call this week about its investigation into The State Policy Network. “What we uncovered through our investigation is that SPN along with its affiliates amount to $83 million just flooding into the states to push and promote this agenda …,” CMD director Lisa Graves told reporters on a Wednesday call. “And that money is on the rise.”

Josh Eidelson at Salon gave a nice summary of the CMD report.