Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wal-Mart in some hot Wal-Water with the FEC

1) First of all, fuck JoeZell Milberman. Add him to keynote speaker Mayor McAsshat, and you've got the recipe for an awesome Republican convention (though, as much as I loathe Lieberman and think Giuliani might be more of an idiot than even Bush, it is funny that the GOP hootenanny will feature two [at least nominally] pro-choice politicians).

2) The group Wake Up Walmart has filed an official complaint with the Federal Elections Commission regarding allegations of political coercion of their employees.

"In the months leading to the 2008 elections, and with the blessing of corporate headquarters, Wal-Mart stores across the country held mandatory political meetings aimed at scaring workers away from voting for Democrats."

The WJS reported a few days ago that a tape was obtained from a Wal-Mart employee that contained a recording of Wal-Mart managers spreading "inaccurate information" about the Employee Free Choice Act, saying that "If Democrats get the votes they need and elect a Democratic president, they said it will be the first bill presented and that's scary". This is, of course, in addition to the usual kinds of systemic misinformation and intimidation that the Wal-Fucking-Mart Corporation uses to beat down all attempts to organize.

At least the Canadians are starting to get it-- just a few days ago, a Wal-Mart in Quebec was forced by a government labor arbitrator to accept a deal brokered between workers and the company, making the store the first Wal-Mart in North America with a collective agreement in place (even though a few Wal-Mart stores are nominally unionized, this is the first successful CA).

And just for the record, I'm not an anti-corporate demagogue. Vertical and horizontal business growth has tremendous benefits to the working class if the corporation manages its growth and uses its leverage to raise the standards of living for its employees. As much we like local, small scale capitalism, Mom-and-Pop shops have a difficult time doing that (which is why I find myself defending companies like Starbucks, which offer health benefits to part-time workers and pay their employees at a much higher rate than a small coffee shop could possibly muster). Costco is another example, which is direct competition with Wal-Mart-- many of the Costco stores are unionized, part-time workers get full benefits, there is a profit sharing and retirement program for all employees, and the average salary is $17/hr-- a full 40% higher than Wal-Mart. Trader Joe's, a California-based grocery chain, operates with a similar pro-worker mindset. Are any companies 100% perfect with respect to workers (leaving out fair-trade and environmental issues for a moment-- these are of course, a whole different can of worms)? Of course not-- but the transformative power of large corporations on the economic stature of the country is profound if used and managed wisely. In the case of Wal-Mart, not only is the potential being pissed away, the company is actively trying to suppress workers' pay, benefits, and security.