The Starting Line – Local Labor Activist Banned from All Walmart Stores

by on October 11, 2012 · 1 comment

in Columns, Editor's Picks, Encore, Government, Politics, The Starting Line

Photo from Lorena Gonzalez Twitter Feed

Skirmishes between Walmart and labor groups continued yesterday, as 200 angry protesters showed up at a meeting of investors and analysts earlier today at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

Here in San Diego local AFL/CIO leader Lorena Gonzalez paid her first visit ever to a Walmart, visiting the College Grove store with a letter for the store manager asking the retailer to improve employee pay and benefits, and require store contractors to pay a living wage.

The store manager refused to even shake hands with Gonzalez, keeping hands in his pockets as she asked him to accept the letter.

He responded with a notice banning Gonzalez from ever setting foot in any Walmart store, and called the police. She later tweeted “PD let me leave letter Told me if I come back Walmart threatens civilian arrest… Then asked me if I wanted to go get a taco”.

Gonzalez’s visit to Walmart was part of a national day of action against the corporation, which has traditionally resisted efforts by its U.S. employees to unionize. Similar actions were taken in Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington and Georgia, among other states.

Gonzales told PBS the actions were being taken is to give workers a voice against one of the largest corporations in the world.

Photo from Lorena Gonzalez Twitter feed

“While traditional unionizing efforts have been tough, this is another way for workers to come together and collectively demand changes at their workplace,” she said.

A Walmart spokesman disputed allegations of mistreatment of workers in an interview with ABC News, claiming that most employees have “repeatedly rejected unionization.

“They seem to recognize that Walmart has some of the best jobs in the retail industry — good pay, affordable benefits and the chance for advancement,” he said.

Activists have called the Arkansas based retailer “the ultimate welfare queen” saying that company policies increase employee reliance on government assistance. They say the company deliberately schedules employees to keep their hours below the threshold required for company benefits eligibility.

Walmart has become the number one driver behind the growing use of food stamps in the United States with as many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores using food stamps.

Walmart’s employees rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. In state after state, store employees are the top recipients of Medicaid.

Walmart workers’ reliance on public assistance due to substandard wages and benefits has become a form of indirect public subsidy to the company. In effect, Walmart is shifting part of its labor costs onto the public.

Encinitas Parents on the Warpath Over Yoga Classses

A small group of parents up in Encinitas are up in arms because their kids were asked to take yoga classes, according to a  story in the NC Times.  They appeared with straight faces and a lawyer in tow before the Encinitas School Board Tuesday night, claiming that the program pushed the Hindu religion on their children.

And when the school district removed their kids from the yoga classes as the parents requested, they now claim that the children were bullied and ostracized, comparing the situation to (I’m not making this up) Nazi Germany. Next up, no doubt, will be complaints about tacos being served in the school cafeteria.

Please Insert $50 for Your Sixth Amendment Rights

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance of Tuesday requiring a $50 fee for public defender representation. Dave Maass over at City Beat reports that this “registration fee”, which was authorized by the State legislature back in 1996, will add $600,000 annually in funding for the Department of the Public Defender.

Criminal defendants who are too poor to hire their own lawyer and cannot pay the fee may ask a judge to waive it.  The county is not allowed to deny legal representation based on this fee system.

Mayor Sanders Amazing Water Works Show

For the past 40 years San Diego has failed to meet national standards on sewage treatment, allowing 175 million gallons of partially treated water to be pumped daily into the Pacific Ocean from its Point Loma Treatment Plant.  The city has repeatedly sought special permission from the Environmental Protection Agency, relying on a “301(h) waiver”, to allow violations of the Clean Water Act to continue.

Yesterday Mayor Jerry Sanders announced to the media that water rates for city residents would not be increased during the coming year, saying that the city could afford to absorb projected increases in wholesale rates that will be imposed by the San Diego Water Authority that could amount to as much as $24 million.

This promise will make things mighty uncomfortable for whoever takes the top spot in San Diego after the elections, should the EPA tell the city that it will no longer give them extensions on the waiver, as sources at the California Coastal Commission are saying will happen in 2015.

This move would put the city government into hurry up mode and upgrading the facilities on Point Loma will cost over a billion dollars.  Upgrading the plant is one of those infrastructure issues that has been kicked down the road repeatedly.  Even though the costs can be amortized over many years through bonds, money is going to have to come from somewhere to make those payments.

What would make the most sense here is implementation of the conclusions drawn by the City’s Recycled Water Study.  Although its conclusion -that we need to move to implement what’s called Indirect Potable Reuse-was unanimously accepted by the City Council, in the past city leaders and the San Diego Union-Tribune (now U-T San Diego) have rejected it because of discomfort of what’s been dubbed “toilet to tap.”

Tweet of the Day:

I’m pretty good with Excel, but I’d hate to be guy who keeps spreadsheet trying to reconcile Romney’s positions. #VALUE! #REF! #DIV/0!

— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) October 10, 2012

On This Day: In 1869 Thomas Edison filed for a patent on his first invention. The electric machine was used for counting votes for the U.S. Congress, however the Congress did not buy it. In 1965 “Roll Over Beethoven” was released by the Beatles. In 1975 “Saturday Night Live” was broadcast for the first time. George Carlin was the guest host.

  Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmer’s Markets: Carmel Valley (Canyon Crest Academy 5951 Village Center Loop Road) 3:30 – 7:00 pm, Chula Vista(Downtown, Center St. & Third Ave.) 3 –7 pm, Linda Vista  (6900 Linda Vista Road Between Comstock & Ulric) 2 – 7 pm, North Park (CVSPharmacy parking lot 3151 University & 32nd St.) 3 – 7 pm, Oceanside Market & Faire (Pier View Way & Coast Hwy. 101) 9 am – 1 pm,Oceanside Sunset (Tremont & Pier View Way) 5 –9 pm, San Carlos (Pershing Middle School 8204 San Carlos Drive) 4 – 7 pm, SDSU Farmers’ Market (Campanile Walkway btw Hepner Hall & Love Library) 10 – 3 pm, University Town Center  (Genesee Ave. at UTC Westfield Shopping Plaza) 3 – 7 pm.

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Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013 and 2014. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park. NEW: Ello contact @dougbob
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avatar bob dorn October 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

That $50 fee for the public defenders office… another one of those cuts to the flesh of ordinary non-millionaires. Others might be the motor cops hiding behind bushes so they can ticket rolling pauses at stop signs, or city-approved parking lots that charge $15 for Petco Park games (how much will it be for the Chargers?)… Just getting along these days has become impossible for a lot of people by way of these incremental, creeping charges for tax-funded government functions, many of them adding income to already wealthy private money freaks. That could be called wealth-redistribution.

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