Fast Food/Walmart Strikers Unite!!
The fast food/Walmart workers walkouts that occurred nationwide on August 29, 2013 were put together mainly through social media. Although good old fashioned community organizing was used, social media is what kept everyone informed and on the same page. Twitter ready names were used; LOW PAY IS NOT OK “Low Pay Is Not OK”, FAST FOOD FORWARD “Fast Food Forward” to gather workers. Hashtags like #strikefor 15” and “#jamfastfood” were used to share pictures of protests and to show their locations in real time.
After the passage of the 1964 CIVIL RIGHTS ACT, black workers finally were able to get a leg into big industrial employment. Many of those jobs were unionized which enabled black workers access to better jobs. These jobs changed the landscape for that generation. Since then many factory jobs have moved overseas and unions have been dismantled. The combination of these two occurrences have had a great impact of many people. After the recession many people have had to take fast food or retail jobs to feed their families.
Business owners response to the striking fast food/Walmart workers was to threaten them. Owners said that if they were going to be forced to increase, nearly double, wages business owners would be forced to replace much of their work force with Ipad workers. Ipad workers were described as computer stations that resembled ATM machines. The replacement would leave thousands of low wage fast food/Walmart workers with no work at all.
John D. Stutter, reporter for CNN, agrees with the Fast Food Wallmart strikers. In his article, “7 Ways to Narrow the Rich-Poor Gap,” he writes, “If we’re the poorest and we have the highest unemployment and crime rate, why doesn’t God just say I’m going to wipe this town off the map? Because he knows that, in a couple years, something big is going to happen for Lake Providence. “He’s waiting for us to start to believe in ourselves.”
That’s 18-year-old Frededria Willis, one of the many amazing people I met in Lake Providence, Louisiana, which is the American capital of income inequality. East Carroll Parish, where Lake Providence is located, has a wider gap between rich and poor than any other county in the United States.”[include the quote here but use the quote option in the edit bar on WordPress, quote/blockquote, which will offset the quote in blue in larger type] and hotlink the title of the article to the source…..
This issue has become more known as we learn just how far some companies have gone in putting their employees on public assistance. According to one study, American fast food workers receive more than $7 billion dollars in public assistance. As it turns out, McDonald’s has a “McResource” line that helps employees and their families enroll in various state and local assistance programs. It exploded into the public when a recording of the McResource line advocated that full-time employees sign up for food stamps and welfare.
Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private sector employer, is also the biggest consumer of taxpayer supported aid. According to Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, in many states, Wal-Mart employees are the largest group of Medicaid recipients. They are also the single biggest group of food stamp recipients. Wal-mart’s “associates” are paid so little, according to Grayson, that they receive $1,000 on average in public assistance. These amount to massive taxpayer subsidies for private companies.
Why are profitable, dividend-paying firms receiving taxpayer subsidies? The short answer is, because they can. The longer answer is more complex and nuanced.
Both McDonald’s and Wal-Mart are engaging in perfectly legal behavior. The system was set up long ago in ways that failed to imagine companies doing this. Yes, they are taking advantage of the taxpayer, but they are also operating within the law.
Which means it is time to change those outdated rules.
The simplest solution is to raise the minimum wage. If full-time employees are living below the poverty level — especially those with children – it’s no surprise they are going to need public assistance. Raising the minimum wage over a period of time will eliminate much of this corporate welfare. The costs will be slightly higher prices at fast food restaurants and low end retailers.
With Black Friday just around the corner, Walmart workers have already started the groundwork for yet another strike at a Walmart near you. November 29 is this years Black Friday and store associates have planned another day of disruption and stoppages for the company. Walmart is not alone in the fight for fair wages. Other retail chains have joined the fight, including Target, Best Buy and Macy’s.
My friends and I decided to attend the strike on Black Friday. We weren’t prepared for the rules that the police officers put into place. We couldn’t strike in front of Walmart. We couldn’t stand still, strikers had to continuously move. Once movement stopped you were told that you were breaking the law and could be arrested. The strike didn’t last long, by 1 p.m. we were on our way back to New York. The feeling of taking part in trying to make life better for others will last forever.
The National Labor Relations Board, which protects the rights of workers who organize for better working conditions, said Wal-Mart illegally threatened “reprisal” against workers who protested on November 22, 2012. The agency also said Wal-Mart stores in more than a dozen states “unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees” who participated in legal strikes and protests.
Wal-Mart has up to two weeks to reach a settlement, according to the NLRB. Under any settlement, Wal-Mart would either have to hire back the people it fired or compensate workers who had been disciplined, the NLRB said.
Fast food workers got striking bright and early Thursday in cities including New York, Chicago and St. Louis. Organizers of the demonstrations estimate that workers will have walked off the job in 100 cities when all is said and done. The demands? $15 per hour and the ability to unionize.
Costco is proving Republicans and the Wal-Mart wrong by paying workers a living wage while also earning record profits.
While Wal-Mart experienced February sales that were considered, “total disaster,” Costco’s earnings for the second quarter of the year climbed 39%. The New York Times reported, “Costco Wholesale’s net income for its second quarter climbed 39 percent as it pulled in more money from membership fees, sales improved and it recorded a large tax benefit.”
1. Join Them!
WALMART STRIKE SPREADS Nothing demonstrates support for striking workers more than actually showing up yourself.
2. Culture Jam
For those daring enough to enter Wal-Mart’s front doors, here’s a clever – and tiny bit sneaky – way to inform customers about the company’s unethical practices. 99 PICKETS , a pro-labor blog aligned with the Occupy movement, has created price cards and banners that can easily be slipped in to replace Wal-Mart’s existing signage.
3. Don’t Shop There
HAVE A BUY NOTHING DAY It may seem like a no-brainer suggestion, but don’t do it. Just don’t give your money to a company that underpays and mistreats its employees, no matter what kind of “deal” Wal-Mart advertises.
4. Sponsor a Fired Striker
When employees attempt to unionize or strike for improved wages and working conditions, Wal-Mart is notorious for firing them, not only as punishment, but also as a warning to their colleagues that any talk of unionizing will not be tolerated. SPONSOR A FIRED WORKER
5. Sign Petitions
If you can’t be there to shout your discontent at Wal-Mart in person, make sure your voice is still heard. Petitions are below.
Walmart’s low-wage model winds up costing us all. When the biggest employer in the country doesn’t pay its workers enough to spend money in their communities, we don’t get the economic growth that creates more jobs. And when jobs don’t pay enough to support a family, taxpayers end up subsidizing Walmart’s workforce costs through public benefits like Medicaid and nutrition assistance.