Published: Sunday 23 December 2012
A fire that killed 112 workers in a factory that supplies goods to Walmart has inspired the next wave of actions demanding justice for workers along the company’s supply chain.

The fight for justice at Walmart went another round on Tuesday morning, as around 75 protesters gathered in Port Newark, N.J., in an attempt to block the unloading of the container ship Maersk Carolina, whose cargo included Walmart-bound goods made in Bangladesh. While the blockade was not successful, the action demonstrated the strengthening alliance between Occupy-related groups and more labor READ FULL POST 2 COMMENTS

Published: Sunday 16 December 2012
So two cheers for Ben Bernanke and the Fed. They’re doing what they can.

For the first time, the Federal Reserve has explicitly linked interest rates to unemployment.

Rates will remain near zero “at least as long” as unemployment remains above 6.5 percent and if inflation is projected to be no more than 2.5 percent, said the Federal Open Market Committee in a statement Wednesday.

Put to one side the question now obsessing stock and bond traders — whether the new standard means higher interest rates will kick in sooner than the middle of 2015, which had been the Fed’s previous position.

By linking interest rates directly to the rate of unemployment, Bernanke is explicitly acknowledging that the Federal Reserve Board has two mandates — not just price but also employment. “The conditions now prevailing in the job market represent an enormous waste of human and economic potential,” said Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

These are refreshing words at a time ...

Published: Sunday 2 December 2012
Only four states—Utah, Delaware, Wyoming, and Idaho—reported no strikes or protests.

With the Black Friday strikes at Walmart behind us, and a few days to reflect on the outcome, the big conclusion we can draw is that the workers got lukewarm results in the streets (or parking lots, as the case may be), but scored a major victory in the media, especially in social media. That momentum could go a long way for the struggles of low-wage workers across the country.

On Black Friday, the largest shopping day of the year in the United States, Walmart workers, their families, and supporters staged 1,000 protests and demonstrations in 46 states and in 100 major cities, according to OUR Walmart, a non-union worker’s organization associated with the strike. Only four states—Utah, Delaware, Wyoming, and Idaho—reported no strikes or protests.

Many of the workers and supporters who protested were affiliated with two organizations: OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmart.

In a video posted to YouTube on October 23 by OUR Walmart, workers cite a laundry list of reasons for the strike, including low wages, unfair scheduling, and retaliation against workers who attempt to organize.

Actions took different forms in different cities, with tactics ranging from walkouts to picket lines. In Milwaukee, Wis., striking workers briefly occupied the front register area of Walmart store number 2452. On Twitter, @Wiscjobsnow tweeted pictures of the occupation. In Chicago, two dozen Walmart employees joined with other retail and fast-food workers for a series of protests in Chicago’s downtown. And individual workers walked off their jobs in places like Danville, Ky., Orlando, Fla., Ocean City, Md., and Baton Rouge, La.

In Mt. Vernon, Wash., Lori Amos, who has worked for Walmart for 13 years, walked out with one other ...

Published: Saturday 1 December 2012
“Jobs are slowly returning to America, but most of them pay lousy wages and low if non-existent benefits.”

 

What does the drama in Washington over the “fiscal cliff” have to do with strikes and work stoppages among America’s lowest-paid workers at Walmart, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Domino’s Pizza?

Everything.

Jobs are slowly returning to America, but most of them pay lousy wages and low if non-existent benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that seven out of 10 growth occupations over the next decade will be low-wage — like serving customers at big-box retailers and fast-food chains. That’s why the median wage keeps dropping, especially for the 80 percent of the workforce that’s paid by the hour.

It’s also part of the reason why the percent of Americans living below the poverty line has been increasing even as the economy has started to recover — from 12.3 percent in 2006 to 15 percent in 2011. More than 46 million Americans now live below the poverty line.

Many of them have jobs. The problem is these jobs just don’t pay enough to lift their families out of poverty.

So, encouraged by the economic recovery and perhaps also by the election returns, low-wage workers have started to organize.  

Yesterday in New York hundreds of workers at dozens of fast-food chain stores went on strike, demanding a raise to $15-an-hour from their current pay of $8 to $10 an hour (the median hourly wage for food service and prep workers in New York is $8.90 an hour).

Last week, Walmart workers staged demonstrations and walkouts at thousands of Walmart stores, also demanding better pay. The average Walmart employee earns $8.81 an hour. A third of Walmart’s employees work less than 28 hours per week and don’t qualify for benefits.

These workers are not teenagers. Most have to support their families. According to the Bureau of Labor ...

Published: Saturday 1 December 2012
“Walmart employs a network of contractors and subcontractors who have habitually broken the law to keep their labor costs low and profit margins high.”

 

Lawyers alleging wage theft from mostly immigrant Latino contract workers at a Southern California warehouse complex took steps today to add Walmart as a defendant in an ongoing federal lawsuit.

The move is expected to draw the nation’s largest retailer into a case in which it had, heretofore, been tangentially involved – and raises questions about the human cost of Walmart’s tightly controlled supply chain, which relies heavily on contractors and subcontractors.

“Walmart employs a network of contractors and subcontractors who have habitually broken the law to keep their labor costs low and profit margins high,” Michael Rubin, a lawyer for the workers, contended in a written statement to the Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Investigative Reporting. “We believe Walmart knows exactly what is happening and is ultimately responsible for stealing millions of dollars from the low-wage warehouse workers who move Walmart merchandise.”

A court document filed today in Los Angeles claims, "Recent discovery has established that Walmart bears ultimate responsibility for the violations of state and federal law committed against plaintiff warehouse workers," who "perform hard physical labor for long hours with little pay under hot, hazardous, and dust-filled conditions, unloading and loading trucks destined for Walmart stores and distribution centers throughout the United States."

The class-action lawsuit, filed in October 2011, accuses the owner of the Mira Loma warehouse complex, Schneider Logistics Transloading and Distribution, and two staffing agencies of cheating contract workers out of pay.

In an email, Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman said, ...

Published: Tuesday 27 November 2012
Published: Tuesday 27 November 2012
The building was a factory operated by Tazreen Fashions, a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, which supplies Wal-Mart, Ikea and other major retailers in the United States and Europe

A clothing factory in Bangladesh that has ties to Wal-Mart suffered a massive fire Saturday that left at least 118 factory workers dead and scores injured. Wal-Mart is the largest buyer of garments from Bangladesh, which has a notoriously poor fire-safety record and has long suppressed worker’s attempts to improve their conditions. The building was a factory operated by Tazreen Fashions, a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, which supplies Wal-Mart, Ikea and other major retailers in the United States and Europe. The factory made polo shirts, fleece jackets and t-shirts. We speak to Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, which investigates conditions in factories around the world.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring our next guest into this conversation with another story related to Walmart, Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium. And I want to talk a little about what happened in Bangladesh. A clothing factory in Bangladesh that has ties to Walmart suffered a massive fire Saturday that left at least 112 factory workers dead, scores injured. The building was a factory operated by Tazreen Fashions, a subsidiary of the Tuba Group which supplies Walmart, Ikea and other major retailers in the U.S. and Europe. The factory made polo shirts, fleece jackets, t-shirts. Scott Nova is Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium which investigates conditions in factories around the world. Welcome to Democracy ...

Published: Saturday 24 November 2012
“Walmart filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in an effort to stop the walk out last week, accusing protesters of violating a law ’which prohibits picketing for any period over 30 days without filing a petition to form a union.’”

Workers at Walmart stores across the country are walking off their jobs to protest the national retailer’s low wages and poor working conditions in an effort to raise public awareness about how the company treats its employees on the busiest shopping day of the year. The strikes, which began earlier this month, are the first in the 50 year history of the company and come just as Walmart reported a 9 percent increase in third-quarter net income, earning $3.63 billion.

Workers are also opposing Walmart’s poor benefits, alleged systematic discrimination against women, and its decision this year to kick off Black Friday on Thursday night. As Fox News reported today, many employees say they fear retaliation for speaking out against the company’s policies:

Walmart filed a ...

Published: Friday 23 November 2012
Unsafe working conditions, poverty-level wages, a rise in already expensive health care premiums, and retaliation against workers’ organizing have encouraged many to join the strike instead of clocking in for the annual shopping holiday.

 

This Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year will also be the busiest day for labor organizing, as Walmart store associates and community supporters spend their Thanksgiving holidays on the picket lines.

Organizers announced that last week’s walkouts at Walmart locations in California, Texas, and Seattle were the first wave of an expected 1,000 protests across the country leading up to and on Black Friday. The public can expect strikes and protests in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, and Washington, D.C., as well as walkouts in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Minnesota, among other states.

Over the past year, groups including Warehouse Workers United, United Food & Commercial Workers, the National Guestworker Alliance, and OUR Walmart, a union-backed organization founded by Walmart workers, have come together to confront Walmart. Unsafe working conditions, poverty-level wages, a rise in already expensive health care premiums, and retaliation against workers’ organizing have encouraged many to join the strike instead of clocking in for the annual shopping holiday.

Worker discontent has been mounting since June, when guestworkers at a small seafood supplier for Walmart—immigrants in the U.S. on temporary work visas—walked off the job at their Louisiana plant and brought attention to labor abuses down the Walmart supply chain. Marches in California and Chicago for Walmart warehouse workers followed soon after.

One of the biggest concerns of workers and labor activists organizing actions for Black Friday is wealth inequality within the Walmart company. According to a report by the Huffington Post, a low-level Walmart employee averages $8 ...

Published: Thursday 22 November 2012
Most new jobs in America are in personal services like retail, with low pay and bad hours.

 

A half century ago America’s largest private-sector employer was General Motors, whose full-time workers earned an average hourly wage of around $50, in today’s dollars, including health and pension benefits. 

Today, America’s largest employer is Walmart, whose average employee earns $8.81 an hour. A third of Walmart’s employees work less than 28 hours per week and don’t qualify for benefits. 

There are many reasons for the difference – including globalization and technological changes that have shrunk employment in American manufacturing while enlarging it in sectors involving personal services, such as retail. 

But one reason, closely related to this seismic shift, is the decline of labor unions in the United States. In the 1950s, over a third of private-sector workers belonged to a union. Today fewer than 7 percent do. As a result, the typical American worker no longer has the bargaining clout to get a ...

Published: Wednesday 21 November 2012
“During an appearance on CNN Tuesday morning, Vice President of Communications David Tovar sought to brush aside the fact that Walmart is paying its associates salaries that are just slightly above the poverty line.”

As Walmart workers across the country coordinate a Black Friday walkout in an effort to build awareness about the national retailer’s low wages and poor working conditions, the company is on a media offensive to downplay their associates’ concerns and reassure shoppers.

During an appearance on CNN Tuesday morning, Vice President of Communications David Tovar sought to brush aside the fact that Walmart is paying its associates salaries that are just slightly above the poverty line, even as the company reported a 9 percent increase in third-quarter net income, earning $3.63 billion. He insisted that the company has “got great associates” who are “going to do a great job for us this holiday season.”

But when host Carol Costello pressed Tovar on the growing wealth gap in America and Walmart’s role in insuring a robust middle class, he dodged the question, but not before suggesting that the store offers associates a discount to buy Walmart products (and invest their pay checks back into the company):

COSTELLO: The wage gap in this country continues to grow ever wider. you know, we hear from economists all the time, we need a strong middle class to make our overall economy stronger. Is it Walmart’s responsibility to make sure that its employees can support a strong middle-class lifestyle?

TOVAR: We’re working hard every day to provide more opportunities for associates. [...]

COSTELLO: But if a lot of them are making $15,000 a year, you can’t live a strong middle-class lifestyle on that. You just can’t. [...]

TOVAR: Our average rate is about $12.40 an hour far a full time associate. We also offer comprehensive benefit packages as low as $17 a pay period, which is very affordable and we also pay quaterly bonuses, which is something that not a lot of retailers ...

Published: Sunday 18 November 2012
“Specific dates have not been announced yet out of concern to minimize chances for Walmart to preemptively silence workers’ voices.”

“We are standing up to live better,” say Walmart’s retail workers, playfully twisting Walmart’s slogan of “live better” into a rallying cry for better conditions and treatment. In a taste of what the nation’s largest retailer can expect on Black Friday, frustrated Walmart workers have again started walking off their jobs to protest their employer’s attempts to silence outspoken workers.

Workers from both the retail and warehouse sectors of Walmart’s supply chain have called for nation-wide protests, strikes and actions on, and leading up to, next Friday — the busiest shopping day of the year. In the past week, wildcat strikes in Dallas, Seattle and the Bay Area saw dozens of retail workers — from multiple store — walk away from their shifts, suggesting that the Black Friday threats are to be taken seriously.

Dan Schlademan, Director of the Making Change at Walmart campaign, said in a nation-wide conference call organized for media on Thursday that Walmart can expect more than 1,000 different protests, including strikes and rallies at Walmart stores between now and Black Friday.

According to organizers working with the Walmart retail workers’ association, OUR Walmart, stores around the country — including, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Washington D.C. and others — can expect workers to go on strike. Specific dates have not been ...

Published: Friday 2 November 2012
“The Republicans can’t buy the election so they have to steal it.”

I’ll say it, since the Democrats aren’t. The Republicans have become a party of radical extremism and oppression. Election stealing? Check. Agenda to keep women second class citizens? Check. Religious lawmakers who reject science and reality? Check. Lying demagogue who will say anything to gain power? Check.

If we were located in a different part of the world, we might be invading us.

The Republicans can’t buy the election so they have to steal it. The champions of democracy – at home and abroad – have created a new era of “Jim Crow” laws. As they should have virtually limitless money, this may speak even more to their incompetence than corruption.  Killing the estate tax alone (something in the “Ryan budget” that Romney said he would sign) would bring $1 trillion to the rich and $30 billion to Walmart heirs. A tax holiday would give $350 billion to corporations; slashing regulations, billions more. Thus in flows the money.  Major supporters include the Koch brothers, whose company was responsible for "the largest compensatory damages judgment in a wrongful death case against a corporation in U.S. history" ($296 million), and Newt Gingrich fan Sheldon Adelson who was once the third richest American.

But apparently the big money isn’t enough to craft a credible message. The party of wealth needs to lie, cheat and steal like some Third World tyrant.  Voting ID laws passed in 18 states this election cycle. Laws requiring government-issued photo ID could disenfranchise ...

Published: Wednesday 24 October 2012
“There’s a wonderful old American postcard tradition of gigantism, a mixture of (and gentle mocking of) a national, but especially Western, urge toward bravado, braggadocio, and pride when it comes to this country.”

 

Obesity is an American plague -- and no, I’m not talking about overweight Americans.  I’m talking about our overweight, super sized presidential campaign.  I’m talking about Big Election, the thing that’s moved into our homes and, especially if you live in a “swing state,” is now hogging your television almost 24/7.

There’s a wonderful old American postcard tradition of gigantism, a mixture of (and gentle mocking of) a national, but especially Western, urge toward bravado, braggadocio, and pride when it comes to this country.  The imagery on those cards once ranged from giant navel oranges on railroad flatcars to saddled jackalopes (rabbits with antlers) mounted by cowboy riders on the range.  Think of the 2012 election season as just such a postcard -- without the charm.

Though no one’s bothered to say it, the most striking aspect of this election is its gigantism.  American politics is being super sized.  Everything -- everything -- is bigger. There are now scores of super PACs and “social welfare” organizations, hundreds of focus groups, thousands upon thousands of polls, hundreds of thousands of TV ads, copious multi-million dollar contributions to the dark side by the .001%, billions of ad dollars flooding the media, up to $3 billion pouring into the coffers of political consultants, and oh yes, though it’s seldom mentioned, trillions of words.

It’s as if no one can stop talking about what might otherwise be one of the least energizing elections in recent history: the most vulnerable president in memory versus a candidate who somehow threatens not to beat him, two men about as inspired as a couple of old beanbag chairs.  And yet the words about the thrill of it all just keep on pouring out.  They stagger (or perhaps stun) the imagination.  They are almost all ...

Published: Wednesday 24 October 2012
“Imagine if Walmart workers across a wide swath of states refused to come to work on the company’s busiest day, forcing a shutdown of several branches of the retailer’s stores?”

 

One would think it would be easy to get a “no” from anyone who you asked would be willing to wake-up at 3 a.m. on a cold November day to fight through hectic traffic and elbow people for $2 toasters instead of stay home and sleep off their turkey coma on the day after Thanksgiving. But despite that fact, Walmart makes a killing, literally, off of “Black Friday” discounts that have led to the deaths of both workers and shoppers in their encouragement of a mad consumerist dash for cheap deals on cheap products.

Imagine if Walmart workers across a wide swath of states refused to come to work on the company’s busiest day, forcing a shutdown of several branches of the retailer’s stores? It would be a huge win for workers over corporate greed and savage consumerism.

If you hate corporate greed, Walmart is a great adversary. They have aggressive policies in place to stop workers from hitting the overtime pay mark (34 hours), paying many of their workers just above the bare minimum wage while the Walton family rakes in countless profits. In fact, the average yearly income of one of Walmart’s minimum-wage workers, $15,080, is the same amount the six Waltons who own the chain make in just 3 minutes of dividends. Those 6 people who own the retail chain have actually amassed more wealth than the bottom 41.5% of ...

Published: Tuesday 23 October 2012
For a media obsessed with ratings, a strategy of complex falsity pays.

In the race to analyze polls and money raised, the media has lost the basic narrative of identity and character. Willard “Mitt” Romney personifies the mentality of a cheating athlete, the habits of a religious sinner, and a life story that is anti-American.

The sordid details of Lance Armstong’s doping ring – and subsequent loss of sponsors – absorb us, but we ignore Romney’s adaptation of these techniques for politics. A group led by Romney developed “performance enhancing” lies aimed at earning him a first place finish. Armstrong was unwilling to bet on outcomes earned through honest work, so too was Romney. After the Republican platform and post-convention attacks lost him support, his team accelerated the deceptions of “Romnesia”. Poll gains demonstrate he competes effectively only when his campaign’s centerpiece is frequent policy reversals, lies about the president’s record, and numbers that don’t add up. In our sports obsessed country, he deserves to be shamed by the press and hauled off the presidential field.

The media also seems to forget that Barack Obama embodies the American dream – a minority raised in difficult circumstances whose diligence earned him an outstanding education and the presidency. Republicans spent years trying to destroy this clear narrative. They called him a Muslim while blasting him for Christian Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s words, and promoted crazy birth certificate theories. They’ve decried him as a socialist, while applauding an "exceptionalism" that leaves America in the dust of all developed countries which have universal health care, and the many which surpass us academically. The president’s policies reflect his prototypically American background and corresponding commitment to the common man.

In contrast, the man ...

Published: Saturday 13 October 2012
How a few courageous workers in small-town Louisiana sparked nationwide actions demanding better wages and working conditions for those who pick, pack, stock, and sell the mega-retailer’s products.

 

In the small town of Breaux Bridge, La., Martha Uvalle and her co-workers at C.J.'s Seafood, a Walmart supplier, faced abuses many Americans imagine only take place in poorer, faraway countries: They were forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours, with no overtime pay; threatened with beatings if their breaks lasted too long; and, on at least two occasions, locked inside the facility to work. Some fell asleep at their workstations from exhaustion.

Uvalle had heard that there were organizations that defended the rights of immigrant workers like her. In 2011, someone had mentioned a group called the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA).

But, for a year, she held on to the number and didn't call. Change seemed impossible.

So when Uvalle gave the NGA's number to her feisty co-worker, Ana Rosa Diaz, it was an act of tremendous courage. Diaz then actually called the NGA to report the working conditions at C.J.'s.

READ FULL POST 2 COMMENTS

Published: Friday 12 October 2012
“This week, Wal-Mart workers launched the first strike against the giant retailer in its 50-year history, with protests and picket lines at 28 stores across 12 states.”

 

The great recession of 2008, this global economic meltdown, has wiped out the life savings of so many people and created a looming threat of chronic unemployment for millions. This is happening while corporate coffers are brimming with historically high levels of cash on hand, in both the “too big to fail” banks and in non-financial corporations. Despite unemployment levels that remain high, and the anxiety caused by people living paycheck to paycheck, many workers in the United States are taking matters into their own hands, demanding better working conditions and better pay. These are the workers who are left unmentioned in the presidential debates, who remain uninvited into the corporate news networks’ gilded studios. These are the workers at Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the United States. These are the tomato pickers from Florida. With scant resources, armed with their courage and the knowledge that they deserve better, they are organizing and getting results.

This week, Wal-Mart workers launched the first strike against the giant retailer in its 50-year history, with protests and picket lines at 28 stores across 12 states. Many of these nonunion workers are facing retaliation from their employer, despite the protections that exist on paper through the National Labor Relations Board. The strikers are operating under the banner of OUR Walmart: Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart, started with support from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. OUR Walmart members protested outside Wal-Mart’s “Meeting for the Investment Community 2012” in Bentonville, Ark. Demanding a stop to the company’s retaliations, the group promised a vigorous national presence at Wal-Mart stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the largest retail shopping day of the year. The workers have an impressive array of allies ready to join them, including the National ...

Published: Thursday 11 October 2012
If a company as massive as Walmart is forced to change its labor practices, the ripples will be felt far and wide.

 

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone talking about Walmart’s low, low prices with the dollar signs almost visibly flashing in their otherwise vacant eyes. But what are we really talking about here? Do you ever get something for nothing? Walmart executives will say that since the company is so big it enjoys an economy of scale and can pass low prices on to consumers. But those low prices also depend on the company’s willingness to squash competition, neglect reasonable labor practices, destroy communities, purchase political favors and entrap people desperate for a job into pay insufficient for any real quality of life.

That’s why striking workers will pay a visit to Walmart’s headquarters in Arkansas today to put the corporate behemoth on notice. Unless demands are met for better working conditions — including an end to illegal retribution against organizers — Walmarts around the country should be prepared for bold actions and work disruptions on Black Friday, the biggest sales day of the year. Yesterday, Walmart workers walked off the job at 28 stores in 12 states, making it already much more widespread than the only other strike in the company’s history, in 2006. As someone helping to support the campaigns through community organizing and online tools, I’ve found their boldness and tenacity nothing short of inspirational.

Walmart is the largest private employer in the world, the largest retailer in the world and the largest single employer in the United States. Although it has a “buy American” campaign, ...

Published: Monday 1 October 2012
“According to a report released Monday, ALEC has even made inroads in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie (R) and other New Jersey lawmakers have apparently introduced 22 bills since 2010 based on ALEC model legislation.”

 

In the past year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has lost over 40 member companies because of its role in crafting voter suppression laws, anti-immigration laws like Arizona’s SB 1070, and other conservative causes. Still, the group continues to be popular among lawmakers in Republican-controlled states. According to a report released Monday, ALEC has even made inroads in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie (R) and other New Jersey lawmakers have apparently introduced 22 bills since 2010 based on ALEC model legislation. Christie denied the connection in April, when another report found many similarities between his legislation and ALEC bills. However, records found Christie’s advisers and conservative lawmakers in New Jersey consulted ALEC on key legislation, including:

The New Jersey Jobs Protection Act (S240) and a similar bill (S164), which would require all employers to verify whether their workers are legally qualified to work in the United States. The report said they were “taken nearly word for word from ALEC’s Fair and Legal Employment Act, which is also incorporated in ALEC’s longer and more thorough No Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants Act— the infamous model legislation that was introduced in Arizona … and led to protests across the country and a showdown at the Supreme Court.”

ACR103, which would allow a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature to nullify any federal law or regulation. It’s sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris), co-chairman of ALEC’s state chapter. Handlin, who has said she is not an ALEC ...

Published: Monday 1 October 2012
The companies bankrolling the opposition campaign - including pesticide giants Monsanto ($7.2 million) and Dupont ($4.9 million) - will say and spend anything to prevent the kind of transparency that labeling of genetically modified foods (GMO’s) would provide.

 

Apparently $34.4 million in pesticide and junk food money can't buy the opponents of Proposition 37 their own set of facts.

Case in point: A new L.A. Times poll shows Prop 37 winning by more than a 2-to-1 margin among registered California voters. And, according to the recent Pepperdine poll, the opposition's support actually dropped four points over the past two weeks.

So while their treasure trove of special interest money can pay for an endless supply of tired, discredited talking points, it can't seem to convince consumers we don't deserve to know what's in the food we eat.

It's not hard to understand why. The companies bankrolling the opposition campaign - including pesticide giants Monsanto ($7.2 million) and Dupont ($4.9 million) - will say and spend anything to prevent the kind of transparency that labeling of genetically modified foods (GMO's) would provide. And without transparency there can be no accountability.

Here ARE a few facts: A growing body of research links GMO foods to potential health risks, increased pesticide use, the emergence of super bugs and super weeds, biodiversity loss, and the unintentional contamination of ...
Published: Saturday 8 September 2012
“This spring, the service directory Thumbtack.com and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation asked small business owners across the nation to rate how friendly their states—and particularly their states’ regulations—were to small businesses.”

 

If last week's Republican National Convention had a mythic protagonist (other than Mitt Romney, that is), it was the struggling small business owner. In speech after speech, we heard about the same basic person in the same basic dilemma: a small business owner overcome by the burden of government regulations.

This isn’t exactly a surprise; lashing out at regulations has become daily bread for the GOP lately, and the narrative has been eagerly parroted by the media (an April analysis by the Institute for Policy Integrity found that use of the phrase “job-killing regulations” by U.S. newspapers has increased by more than 17,000 percent since 2007).

Indeed, many small business owners report that regulations are their biggest obstacle to success. But are they really?

This spring, the service directory Thumbtack.com and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation asked small business owners across the nation to rate how friendly their states—and particularly their states’ regulations—were to small businesses. Their answers generally matched conventional analysis: Utah and Texas, with fewer and looser regulations, scored well, while states with more aggressive environmental and labor standards, such as Vermont, California, and New York, scored worst.

But researcher Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance noticed something odd: Comparatively speaking, many of the states with the best scores, and the loosest regulations, weren’t actually home to very many small businesses:

Vermont, for example, which earned an “F” in the ranking, in part because of its ...

Published: Tuesday 24 April 2012
“Walmart announced in September 2011 that Castro-Wright would retire this July.”

In a 7,000-word blockbuster Sunday, The New York Times reported that Walmart allegedly engaged in a vast campaign of bribery to expand the company's Mexico business in the early 2000s, potentially violating U.S. law. The scheme was allegedly overseen by a Walmart executive, Eduardo Castro-Wright, described by The Times as "the driving force behind years of bribery" totaling millions of dollars.

 

Three years ago, Castro-Wright himself gave an interview to The Times in which he offered a somewhat different picture of his leadership style.

 

Castro-Wright sat for an interview in 2009 as part of The Times' "Corner Office" series in which top executives talk "about leadership and management." The Times asked Castro-Wright: "What message would you convey in a commencement speech?" He responded:

 

"Here in the United States, and any of the developed countries, I would tend to provide a speech along the lines of what I said before about what makes great leaders — the fact that there's no leader who can be called one if they don't have personal integrity, or if they don't deliver results, or if they don't care about the people they lead, or if they don't have a passion for winning."

 

Asked about the “most important leadership lesson” he’d learned in his career, Castro-Wright emphasized trust:

 

"There's nothing that destroys credibility more than not being able to look someone in the eye and have them know that they can trust you. Leadership is about trust. It's about being able to get people to go to places they never thought they could go. They can't do that if they don't trust you."

 

The Times interview ran under the headline "In a Word, He Wants Simplicity" about five years after the period in which Castro-Wright had ...

Published: Monday 1 August 2011
"From books to music, why retail consolidation is bad news for creativity—and what can be done about it."

Borders Books isn’t the only one. Office Depot and Staples are struggling. Circuit City is gone.

The specialty chains that grew so aggressively in the 1990s and early 2000s—the so-called "category killers" that bankrupted thousands of independent businesses—are now themselves rapidly losing ground to a handful of giant mass merchandisers, namely Walmart, Amazon, Target, and Costco.



While the decline of independent businesses has leveled off and many are finding ways to survive and even thrive by building local business alliances and emphasizing their community roots, the rest of the retail sector is undergoing dramatic consolidation as a small number of massive companies become ever more dominant. This is an ominous trend for manufacturers and consumers, and it exposes serious flaws in U.S. antitrust policy.

Books as Loss Leaders

The publishing industry has "focused its attention on the viability of the struggling Borders, but Barnes & Noble faces many of the very same issues," wrote Peter Olson, the former CEO of Random House, in Publishers Weekly. Big-box mass merchandisers, like Walmart, Target, and Costco, have taken over 30 percent of the book market and last year sold more books than Barnes & Noble and Borders combined.

Mass merchandisers, especially Walmart, can turn a book into a best-seller just by adding it to their shelves—a power that publishers have found irresistible. Many now devote considerable resources to supporting the big boxes.

But Michael Norris, senior analyst at Simba Information and editor of the Book Publishing Report, believes publishers are making a deal with the devil. "They are backing themselves into a ...

Syndicate content
Make your voice heard.
Write for NationofChange
Small and medium businesses aren't the only ones at risk for massive financial miscalculations....
Autism and autism spectrum disorders have created unique challenges for parents for years. These...
Let’s face it, the world used to seem like a huge place. A place in which there were areas, towns,...
Recently, when I trying to define what the term “global energy markets” really meant, I stumbled...
Ukraine and neo-Nazis Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western...