The Starting Line – Walmart Walkout Widens to 12 States, Black Friday Walkout Threatened

by on October 10, 2012 · 1 comment

in Activism, Columns, Government, Politics, The Starting Line

Walkouts at the worlds’ larger retailer spread to at least twenty eight stores in twelve states yesterday, with unprecedented protests against company treatment of employees and working conditions expected to continue today at the annual Walmart investor meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Dan Schlademan, director of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Making Change At Walmart campaign, said job actions took place in Dallas, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay area, Miami, the Washington, D.C., area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago and Orlando.  There were also reports of walkouts in Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota.

The New York Times has posted an article saying that disgruntled Walmart 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. The workers are protesting company attempts to “silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job,” according to a United Food and Commercial Workers news release. Walmart workers, who are not unionized, have long complained of low pay and a lack of benefits.

Studies have shown that Walmart workers are more likely than others in the industry to rely on government benefits. In California, for instance, where the strike started, employees’ families use 40 percent more publicly funded healthcare and 38 percent more public assistance programs than the average employee at a large retail company.

In just one year, OUR Walmart, the unique workers’ organization founded by Walmart Associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates in hundreds of stores across 43 states.  Over eleven thousand people have signed up on their Facebook page, although there is no way of knowing how many of those are actually company employees.

They are facing off against a company with a long history of actively resisting union efforts.  The stock in Walmart is controlled by the six heirs of to founder Sam Walton, who are worth $89.5 billion, or as much as the bottom 41.5 percent of Americans combined.

LA Times Cuts Across the Grain on Proposition 35

Proposition 35, a ballot measure that would create stiff penalties for sex traffickers and human slavers , has so much support it kinda makes you wonder why the law wasn’t simply passed by the legislature.  Republicans like it, Democrats like it, Judges like it, Labor likes it—hell, even the ACLU likes it. The initiative is polling at more than 80% in favor.

So when the Los Angeles Times comes out against it, you gotta wonder what’s up.  Are they coming out in support of animal cruelty next? What could they possibly say? Surprisingly, their arguments are persuasive – let us know what you think in the comments section:

 If reducing sex trafficking and forced labor were as simple as adopting a ballot measure that promised to deal with those predatory practices, there would be every reason to vote for the popular Proposition 35. But the initiative system doesn’t work that way. Voters must ask more than whether they would like to see those cruelties come to an end. They must be satisfied that the particular, far-reaching and inflexible penalties and procedures that would be enacted by this measure would help; that they are the best approach to solving an actual problem; and that actual progress would dwarf any unintended consequences.

 Proposition 35 fails those tests. Voters should not be lulled into believing that by approving this measure they will be taking effective action against slavery and sexual exploitation. Even if well intentioned, this initiative falls well short of the mark. The Times urges a no vote.

 Voter initiatives can be an important check on a legislature so captured by special interests or partisan politics that it fails to deal with problems as they arise. There is plenty of evidence that California‘s Legislature is too timid or cowardly to deal with a variety of problems, but human trafficking is not one of them. The state doesn’t lack for effective laws to combat trafficking. It is among 21 states that have passed significant anti-trafficking legislation. California and federal law today severely punish abduction and pimping of minors (and adults, for that matter), false imprisonment, forced labor and rape. Just last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed two more important pieces of legislation, including a measure that will make it easier for prosecutors to seize traffickers’ assets.

Hunter S. Thompson’s FBI File Surfaces

 The late and lamented father of gonzo journalism had FBI agents checking up on him regularly, according to Gannett’s Argus Leader, which received 58 heavily censored pages from the National Archives after filing a Freedom of Information request.  Prior forwarding the FOIA request to the archives, the FBI explained that “records responsive” to the request were “destroyed on Feb. 1, 1994 and Sept. 1, 1998.”

The bureau starting targeting Thompson for collection efforts after an article titled “The Motorcycle Gangs” appeared in The Nation magazine.  That article went on to become a book called “Hell’s Angels,” which brought him into the literary forefront at the time.  Thompson appeared again on the agency’s radar after an informant told them that the author was a subscriber to The People’s Weekly, the communist party’s west-coast newspaper affiliate:

The agency followed Thompson’s unsuccessful bid for sheriff of Pitkin County, in which the Freak Power candidate memorably shaved his head bald and began referring to the crew-cut sheriff he was running against as “my long-haired opponent.” (Thompson campaigned on promises to rename Aspen “Fat City USA”; to jackhammer the streets and lay down sod; and to legalize drugs for personal use. Profit-seeking traffickers would be put in stocks on the courthouse lawn.)

FBI agents interviewed Thompson’s mailman and other Woody Creek locals. They collected copies of the Aspen Wallposter, a bimonthly newspaper that Thompson edited with the artist Tom Benton; illustrations of a bloody-mouthed Nixon (spelled with a swastika) and “comments regarding law enforcement and the Director” caught the agency’s eye. The Secret Service was alerted.

Thompson’s published accounts of his life were much more salacious than anything found in his dossier.

Faith Out Front Pilgrimage for a ‘Moral Budget’ Today  

Illustration: michaelmucci.com

Religious leaders from San Diego will march today starting at 2:30pm from Christ the King Roman Catholic Church (32nd Street and Imperial Avenue) to several other local churches hoping to draw attention to California’s fiscal crisis and four measures on the November ballot.

According to Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Executive Director of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice (ICWJ), “Christians, Muslims, and Jews are coming together and standing on our faith traditions as public witnesses in this critical time of tremendous stress on families and the working poor.”

The march is part of a statewide day of action calling on voters to protect public education, public safety, and social services.  “We need a moral budget in California now,” asserts Rabbi Coskey.

Father Tommie Jennings and the Reverend J. Lee Hill will begin the march and explain why they also support Propositions 30 and Z.  The religious leaders then will walk to Bethel Memorial A.M.E. Church where the Reverend Anthony Hughes and Bishop George McKinney will call for support of Proposition 34 and an end to the death penalty.

The Reverend John Greene and Father Robert Fambrini will lead the group to St. Paul United Methodist Church where Lorena Gonzalez will speak in opposition to Proposition 32 which is “a deceptive and unfair way to silence workers.” Prop 32 would make it illegal for unions to collect dues for political campaigns and candidates.

The Faith Out Front pilgrimage will march back to Christ the King and hear the Reverend Gerald Brown and acclaimed author Scott Silverman call for support of Proposition 36 seeking to reverse the inappropriate application of the “Three Strikes” law.

Oh, Ye of Little Faith

A poll released yesterday by the Pew Research Center shows that the number of Americans who consider themselves religiously unaffiliated has risen steeply over the past five years.  One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, according to the survey, increasing from 15% in 2007. The Pew study says that their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).

Vegan Coop Kickstarter Needs a Boost

On the heels of last month’s outpouring of public support for the San Diego Public Market (now open in Barrio Logan after raising over $140K) a group of San Diegans have launch a Kickstarter campaign to open a Vegan Food Cooperative in City Heights.

Organizer Mitch Wallis and his team are hoping to open the facility next spring in an 8,000 square foot at El Cajon Boulevard and Interstate 15. The striking building, which once housed Pearson Ford, has a huge underground parking garage and a theater/auditorium for community lectures, movie nights and special events.

Wallis, who is co-owner of Hillcrest’s Evolution Fast Food, and his team are seeking to transform the large empty building into a spacious grocery store featuring fresh organic local produce, a homeopathic/herbal pharmacy, and an upstairs cafe/bakery/deli/juice bar featuring gourmet homemade organic soups, salads, entrees, desserts and family-style cooking.

Their vision for the property has fallen short thus far, as their Kickstarter page, which will expire on October 13th, has only raised $12K+ of the projected $150K they say will be required to launch the coop.

Romney Flips, Then Flops on Abortion Legislation

In an interview with the Des Moines Register newspaper GOP nominee Mitt Romney appeared to be backing off a previously voiced hard line position on abortion, saying “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”

This appeared to be a softer stance from the candidate’s position last spring, when he declared he would “get rid of” funding for Planned Parenthood and appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Two hours later the Romney campaign was walking back that remark. Spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the National Review Online’s Katrina Trinko that Romney “would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.”

That, my friends, is the Romney Etch-a-Sketch at work.

The GOP Ground Game: Cheap Gasoline

They may not be able to ‘Rock the Vote’, but wealthy backers of GOP candidate Mitt Romney are hoping they can ‘Buy the Vote’ in swing states with offers of discounted gasoline and other goodies.  Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the nonprofit financed by David Koch and other wealthy Republican businessmen, is hosting events at gas stations in Iowa, Nevada and Michigan, providing up to fifteen gallons of fuel to motorists at $1.84 per gallon. They’re getting plenty of uncritical local news coverage along the way, telling the press that the $1.84 price symbolizes the price per a gallon before Obama took office in 2009.

AFP has opened 98 Get-Out-the-Vote offices, and hired some 200 field staffers , who are using its state-of-the-art voter-targeting technology on Samsung tablet computers.  The irony here is that Koch Industries, the company that invented the oil derivative, considers itself one of the world’s biggest players and regularly engages in the type of commodity speculation that many experts believe is a key element in rising gas prices.

Volunteers at AFP are getting ‘paid’ with  gift cards, with values up $200 each for the most productive phone bankers.  The group is also providing free barbeque at its anti-Obama rallies.

On the other side of aisle, some pro-Obama groups are also providing minor gifts to their supporters. Thus far it’s been limited to free pizza, and the occasional $5 gift card for an evening of phone banking.

Tweet of the Day:

You call it “excessive drinking.”I call it “cocktail development.”

— Chaim Dauermann (@notclam) October 10, 2012

 

On This Day In 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower apologized to Komla Agbeli Gbdemah, the finance minister of Ghana, after the official had been refused service in a Dover, DE, restaurant. In 1964 the Shangri-Las released “Leader Of The Pack.”(Vroom, Vroom)  In 1973 Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after being charged with federal income tax evasion.

Eat Fresh!  Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Carlsbad (Roosevelt St. btw Grand Ave. & Carlsbad Village Dr.) 1 – 5 pm, Encinitas Station (Corner of E Street & Vulcan in parking lot B) 5 – 8 pm, Mission Hills  (Falcon St. btw West Washington & Ft. Stockton) 3 – 7 pm, North San Diego at Sikes Adobe Farmstead  (I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway. 12655 Sunset Dr., Escondido.) 11 am – 2 pm, Ocean Beach  (4900 block of Newport Ave. btw Cable & Bacon Sts.) 4 – 8 pm, San Marcos – Cal State San Marcos  (333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., Parking Lot B) 3 – 7 pm,Santee  (10445 Mission Gorge Rd. abandoned school parking lot) 3 –7 pm, Temecula (40820 Winchester Rd. Promenade Mall, parking lot btw Macy’s & Penny’s) 9 am – 1 pm

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I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org    Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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