Walmart Workers Issue Black Friday Ultimatum

Did slaves catch your seafood?

From Salon:   http://www.salon.com/2012/05/21/did_slaves_catch_your_seafood/singleton/

Thailand, a major source of fish imported to the US, depends on forced labor for its product

By , GlobalPost
Monday, May 21, 2012

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

PREY VENG, Cambodia, and SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand — In the sun-baked flatlands of Cambodia, where dust stings the eyes and chokes the pores, there is a tiny clapboard house on cement stilts. It is home to three generations of runaway slaves.

The man of the house, Sokha, recently returned after nearly two years in captivity. His home is just as he left it: barren with a few dirty pillows passing for furniture. Slivers of daylight glow through cracks in the walls. The family’s most valuable possession, a sow, waddles and snorts beneath the elevated floorboards.

Before his December escape, Sokha (a pseudonym) was the property of a deep-sea trawler captain. The 39-year-old Cambodian, his teenage son and two young nephews were purchased for roughly $650, he said, each through brokers promising under-the-table jobs in a fish cannery.

There was no cannery. They were instead smuggled to a pier in neighboring Thailand, where they were shoved aboard a wooden vessel that motored into a lawless sea. His uncle had fallen for the same scam five years prior and escaped to warn the others. But Sokha told his son, then just 16, that this venture would turn out differently. He was wrong.

“We worked constantly, for no pay, through seasickness and vomiting, sometimes for two or three days straight,” he said. “We obeyed the captain’s every word.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/05/21/did_slaves_catch_your_seafood/singleton/

The First Domino Falls in Greece

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/21-2

by Shamus Cooke
Published on Monday, May 21, 2012 by Common Dreams

Greece’s situation is not an isolated event, but a bellwether for the industrial world and beyond. The fallout from the 2008 global crisis hasn’t reached bottom yet, and the depths will be dug deeper as the Euro crisis spreads — political crisis will create economic crisis and vice versa, as periods of calm and stability are replaced by international turmoil and panic.

The media and politicians have portrayed the Greeks as indolent and stupid, refusing to swallow the economic medicine needed for a healthy recovery. But the austerity medicine of the bankers — slashing and privatizing the public sector, cutting wages and benefits, mass layoffs, etc. — is a cure that threatens to kill.

What will happen in Greece? Its future was hinted at in the last elections. The centrist parties were devastated by the reality of economic extremes; the “middle ground” simply fell out from under them, since society had been torn asunder by the inequality of the very rich versus everybody else.

In consequence, the radical left party SYRIZA is polled to come in first in the next elections, based on its firm stance against austerity and its uncompromising attitude against the bankers of Greece and beyond. The corporate politicians wanted SYRIZA to take part in a “unity government” that would magically rebuild the country’s lost middle ground and continue the pro-banker austerity policies.

But unity in an economically polarized country like Greece is impossible, especially when the continued existence of the bankers and wealthy rests on the continued suffering of everybody else.

Since unity failed during the last elections, Greek “technocrats” are now overseeing the government until the next elections. What is a technocrat? Someone who supposedly lacks any class bias; the professional strata of professors, lawyers, or doctors that attempt to sit astride an uneven society perfectly balanced, blind to special interests, while keeping their sights set on the “national interest.” But the Greek technocrats are continuing the wealthy’s austerity program, exposing their fake objectivity.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/21-2

Report: Child Homelessness Up 33% in 3 Years

From Reader Supported News:  http://www.readersupportednews.org/news-section2/320-80/8889-report-child-homelessness-up-33-in-3-years

By Marisol Bello, USA Today
13 December 11

One in 45 children in the USA – 1.6 million children – were living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families last year, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness.

The numbers represent a 33% increase from 2007, when there were 1.2 million homeless children, according to a report the center is releasing Tuesday.

“This is an absurdly high number,” says Ellen Bassuk, president of the center. “What we have new in 2010 is the effects of a man-made disaster caused by the economic recession. … We are seeing extreme budget cuts, foreclosures and a lack of affordable housing.”

The report paints a bleaker picture than one by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which nonetheless reported a 28% increase in homeless families, from 131,000 in 2007 to 168,000 in 2010.

Dennis Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania professor of social policy, says HUD’s numbers are much smaller because they count only families living on the street or in emergency shelters.

Continue reading at:   http://www.readersupportednews.org/news-section2/320-80/8889-report-child-homelessness-up-33-in-3-years

Boycott Target on Black Friday: 37,000 Target Employees Sign Petition To Protest Working Long Hours On Thanksgiving

I absolutely refuse to shop at Target.

In fact I dislike target far more than I dislike Walmart, which for all its flaws caters to low income people with good prices on essential food product including name brands.

When I was working and had to wear a bra for work I found bras for ten dollars that fit better and were far better value for my working class dollar than any thing I could find at Macy’s for two to three times the price.

Yes I know Walmart’s treatment of their employees suck.  But almost all big box store corporations suck when it comes to how they treat their employees.

This is why all retail store employees should be unionized.

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/15/368716/target-thanksgiving-protest/

By Marie Diamond
Nov 15, 2011

amondon Nov 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm

It’s no secret that to boost profits during a down economy, many retailers have put the squeeze on their employees to work longer and harder for less and less. That pressure only increases during the holiday season, when stores try to woo consumers with marathon sales and midnight openings. Workers are often forced to choose between being with their families or working long hours on holidays to keep their jobs.

Now, thousands of employees are standing up to the retail giant Target to protest the long hours they’re being required to work on Thanksigiving:

Anthony Hardwick says he resents working at Target Corp. (TGT) on Thanksgiving and has garnered more than 37,000 signatures on an online protest petition.

Target, Macy’s Inc. (M), Gap Inc. (GPS), Kohl’s Corp. (KSS), Toys “R” Us Inc. and Best Buy Co. all plan to open at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving in an attempt to goose sales that the National Retail Federation says may rise just 2.8 percent this holiday season, or about half as much as last year.

Continue reading at:   http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/15/368716/target-thanksgiving-protest/

 

 

Posted in Class War, Social Justice, Unions, Workers. Comments Off

Another Bleak Jobs Report as Unemployment Edges Up to 9.6 Percent

This report by Dean Baker supports the case that unemployment is cyclical, not structural. It originally appeared at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The unemployment rate edged up to 9.6 percent in August as the economy shed 54,000 jobs. The decline was entirely attributable to the loss of 114,000 temporary Census jobs. Excluding these jobs, the economy created 60,000 jobs. With job growth for the prior two months revised up by 123,000, excluding the Census jobs, the August pace is roughly even with June and July.

The largest increases in unemployment were among African Americans who saw their overall rate rise 0.8 percentage points to 16.3 percent, near the recession peak. The unemployment rate for black teens jumped 4.8 percentage points to 45.4 percent. Unemployment for Hispanics edged down to 12.0 percent, a full percentage point below its year-ago level.

jobs-2010-09
Involuntary part-time employment rose by 344,000, reversing declines in the prior two months. All the duration measures of unemployment fell, but this likely reflected the long-term unemployed dropping out of the workforce as their benefit period ended. The percent of the unemployed attributable to voluntary quits fell 0.3 percentage points to 5.9 percent, which is near its low-point for the downturn.

Posted in Economic Issues, Employment, Uncategorized, Workers. Comments Off

Wal-Mart Asks Supreme Court to Weigh In on Suit

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/26/business/26walmart.html?hp

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: August 25, 2010

Wal-Mart Stores asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to review the largest employment discrimination lawsuit in American history, involving more than 1.5 million current or former female workers at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores.

Nine years after the suit was filed, the central issue before the high court will not be whether any discrimination occurred, but whether more than a million people can even make this joint claim through a class-action lawsuit, as opposed to filing claims individually or in smaller groups. In April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled 6-to-5 that the lawsuit could proceed as a jumbo class action – the fourth judicial decision upholding a class action.

The stakes are huge. If the Supreme Court allows the suit to proceed as a class action, that could easily cost Wal-Mart $1 billion or more in damages, legal experts say.

More significantly, the court’s ruling could set guidelines for other types of class-action suits. “This is the big one that will set the standards for all other class actions,” said Robin S. Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, an arm of the Chamber of Commerce, which has filed several amicus briefs backing Wal-Mart.

Continue Reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/26/business/26walmart.html?hp

Obama: If GOP retakes Congress, they will seek to destroy Social Security

From Raw Story http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0814/obama-gop-retakes-congress-seek-destroy-social-security/

By The Associated Press
Saturday, August 14th, 2010 — 12:08 pm

President Barack Obama used the anniversary of Social Security to trumpet Democrats’ support for the popular program and accuse Republicans of trying to destroy it.

Seventy-five years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday: “We have an obligation to keep that promise, to safeguard Social Security for our seniors, people with disabilities and all Americans — today, tomorrow and forever.”

Some Republican leaders in Congress are “pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall,” Obama said.

He contended that such privatization was “an ill-conceived idea that would add trillions of dollars to our budget deficit while tying your benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market.”

Most Republicans, in fact, are wary of touching that idea, because Social Security is virtually sacrosanct to voters, particularly seniors.

Continue reading at:  http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0814/obama-gop-retakes-congress-seek-destroy-social-security/

American Fascism’s Continuing Assault on ‘Useless Eaters’: Phyllis Schlafly Smears ‘Unmarried Moms’ Receiving Unemployment Benefits

From Anti-Fascist Encyclopedia: http://www.antifascistencyclopedia.com/allposts/american-fascisms-continuing-assault-on-useless-eaters-phyllis-schlafly-smears-unmarried-moms-with-unemployment-insurance

By Charlie Eisenhood
Think Progress | Jul 30th, 2010

schlafly American Fascism’s Continuing Assault on ‘Useless Eaters’: Phyllis Schlafly Smears ‘Unmarried Moms’ Receiving Unemployment Benefits

Over the past two months, many Republican pundits and members of Congress have been calling for the end of unemployment benefit extensions for the millions of Americans who can’t find work. Meanwhile, GOP Senators held the unemployment insurance (UI) extension bill hostage for weeks as 2.5 million Americans were left without the “desperately needed lifeline” of UI benefits. Even as five workers fight for every one job opening, Republicans are still calling the unemployed “spoiled” and suggesting that blocking benefits is fine because it only affects a “small amount of people.”

Last week at a fundraiser for Michigan GOP congressional candidate Rocky Raczowski, conservative pundit Phyllis Schlafly added her voice to the chorus crying out against government assistance for the poor or unemployed:

One of the things Obama’s been doing is deliberately trying to increase the percentage of our population that is dependent on government for your living. For example, do you know what was the second biggest demographic group that voted for Obama? Obviously the blacks were the biggest demographic, y’all know what was the second biggest? Unmarried women. 70% of unmarried women voted for Obama. And this is because when you kick your husband out, you’ve got to have Big Brother Government to be your provider. And they know that. They’ve admitted it. And they have all kinds of bills to continue to subsidize illegitimacy…

The Obama administration wants to continue to subsidize this group because they know they are Democratic votes.

Schlafly’s argument is specious. She talks about “subsidizing illegitimacy,” but not all single women are mothers. Less than 20 percent are mothers to young children. The rest include millions of widows, millions of young never-married women, and plenty in between — some of whom have kids, but most of whom do not.

Continue reading at:  http://www.antifascistencyclopedia.com/allposts/american-fascisms-continuing-assault-on-useless-eaters-phyllis-schlafly-smears-unmarried-moms-with-unemployment-insurance

Worker Bees and Caffeine, the Legal Drug

Here I am at six thirty in the morning facing another 9-10 hour day filled with stress.  Before me is a huge cup of coffee, the legal stimulant drug that gets me through the day.  Along with “energy drinks”.

I go to work where conformity is demanded and individuality suppressed.  Out on the floor the disgruntled murmur and anger runs skin deep. The name of the game is selling, pushing product with smiling enthusiasm even if the product has so much fat in it or so much sodium that it should wear a skull and cross bones.

Workers are treated like children and act out in a passive aggressive manner.

The stress of part time work in retail is brutal with its fluctuating hours meaning one can never count on a certain amount of pay when ones check come out.

Workers can be forced to pee in cups or the more modern swab instant drug test that gets so many false positives particularly in older workers who are often on a shopping list of medications.

Coffee is the perfect drug.  It helps the focus and boosts both energy and fake enthusiasm. Work turns us into corporate liars and caffeine helps us with the guilt.  We learn to project a false sincerity in order to sell and keep our jobs secure.

Insecurity is the life blood of the retail slave.  We eat insults and customer condescension with a smile knowing that many doing the condescending are but one more economic down turn, one more round of out sourcing or right sizing by the corporate raiders and junk bond peddlers, from joining us.  Welcome to Thomas Friedman’s globalized flat earth.  Welcome the race to the bottom when it comes to paying workers.

So lift your cup of coffee high in a toast to the death of the middle class.  Welcome to the world of the bottom line.

Welcome to the world created by the “free market” and the class war that created the super rich.  Thank the neo-cons and neo-libs who brought us here.

And if you are a straight person of color or a white LGBT/T person welcome to the world where we waste our time on horizontal hostility while those with the money who created this world use us as scapegoats to distract us from who the real oppressors are.

Happy May Day

Today many people have become convinced that May Day Celebrations are rooted in Communism.  Ask most folks and they will tell you that it is Russian in origin.

Yet the roots of May Day as a worker’s celebration are American and Canadian in origin.

Once upon a time workers believed they had rights including the right to form unions and take direct action agianst the companies and corporations that treated them like slaves.

I am on the threshold of being an old woman and I can remember the days of not so long ago when workers had far more rights than they have today after some thirty years of corporate fascist rule.

In 1886 on May Day workers across the US and Canada went out on strike for the eight hour day.

http://www.marxists.org/subject/mayday/articles/tracht.html

Resolved by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions the United States and Canada, that eight hours shall constitute legal day’s labor from May First, 1886, and that we recommend to labor organizations throughout their jurisdiction that they so direct their laws as to conform to this resolution by the time named.

Although nothing was said in the resolution about the methods by which the Federation expected to establish the 8-hour day, it is self-evident that an organization which at that time commanded an adherence of not more than 50,000 members could not declare “that eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s work” without putting up a fight for it in the shops, mills, and mines where its members were employed, and without attempting to draw into the struggle for the 8-hour day still larger numbers of workers. The provision in the resolution that the unions affiliated to the Federation “so direct their laws as to conform to this resolution” referred to the matter of paying strike benefits to their members who were expected to strike on May First, 1886, for the 8-hour day, and would probably have to stay out long enough to need assistance from the union. As this strike action was to be national in scope and involve all the affiliated organizations, the unions, according to their by-laws, had to secure the endorsement of the strike by their members, particularly since that would involve the expenditure of funds, etc. It must be remembered that the Federation, just as the A. F. of L. today, was organized on a voluntary, federation basis, and decisions of a national convention could be binding upon affiliated unions only if those unions endorsed these decisions.

Preparations for May Day Strike

Although the decade 1880-1890 was generally one of the most active in the development of American industry and the extension of the home market, the year 1883-1885 experienced a depression which was a cyclical depression following the crisis of 1873. The movement for a shorter workday received added impetus from the unemployment and the great suffering which prevailed during that period, just as at the present time the demand for a 7-hour day is becoming a popular issue on account of the tremendous unemployment which American workers are experiencing.

The great strike struggles of 1877, in which tens of thousands of railroad and steel workers militantly fought against the corporations and the government which sent troops to suppress the strikes, left an impress on the whole labor movement. It was the first great mass action of the American working class on a national scale and, although they were defeated by the combined forces of the State and capital, the American workers emerged from these struggles with a clearer understanding of their class position in society, a greater militancy and a heightened morale. It was in part an answer to the coal barons of Pennsylvania who, in their attempt to destroy the miners’ organization in the anthracite region, railroaded ten militant miners (Molly Maguires) to the gallows in 1875.

The Federation, just organized, saw the possibility of utilizing the slogan of the 8-hour day as a rallying organization slogan among the great masses of workers who were outside of the Federation and the Knights of Labor, an older and then still growing organization. The Federation appealed to the Knights of Labor for support in the movement for the 8-hour day, realizing that only a general action involving all organized labor could make possible favorable results.

One of the demands we made in the 1960s was for a 4 day work week for 5 days pay.  We didn’t want to be the slaves of the corporations. “We work for a living, we do not live for working!”

For all too many of us the 8 hour day is but a memory.  We live in the insecurity of part time hell with no time to be ourselves.  The rich have all the good things in live while we are in debt to own even a few toys we rarely have the time to enjoy.  Our lives caught in a vicious cycle of work and consumption.

When the rich blow their money on high risk gambles called derivatives and exotic instruments the working people are expected to bail them out as they are too big to fail.  When working people get behind and lose all they have worked so hard to gain is is purely due to their personal inadequacy.

Mine workers die in the black coal hells of the mines, oil workers die when the rigs explode in fire.  Far more of us suffer with out health care, stressed out by employment insecurity and all the ailments brought on by too much stress and insecurity.

So all of you out there who work for a living….  This Day is for you…

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