Friday, November 23, 2012

Black day in Bentonville?

Today while you're out shopping on Black Friday, Wal-Mart employees will be in the streets protesting labor relations at the world's largest retailer. Wal-Mart attempted to shut down the protests before they began by complaining to the National Labor Relations Board that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union was engaging in unfair labor practices.

The complaint rings hollow as the workers at Wal-Mart are non-unionized - largely due to the company's virulent anti-union and anti-worker policies. Wal-Mart wants you to believe that the vast majority of their workforce is happy to be employed at poverty-level wages. They may be right if we're talking about the teenagers who work after school in order to put gas in their car and pay their cell phone bills.

But, for a full-time "associate," the story is a bit more bleak as a full-time employee making a bit over minimum wage still falls under the government's official poverty line. There is something seriously wrong when full-time employees are paid a wage that won't even pay the bills.

Of course Wal-Mart and the rest of their corporate brethren don't want you to think about that while you're out hunting for the best deal on a flat-screen TV or the latest electronic device on your child's list. They want you to think that those folks living under the poverty line are mooches who are doing their best to avoid responsibility. They don't want you to think about the fact that their profit margins are generated by employing people at the lowest wage possible.

So here's something to chew on while you're waiting in line today. Why is it that our government refuses to raise the minimum wage to a level that working folks can afford to pay their bills? Why is it that President Obama never once mentioned the plight of the working poor during the campaign? Why is it that Wal-Mart is doing whatever it can to prevent its employees from exercising their right to fight for higher wages and better working conditions?

For those of y'all  out in the parking lots and sidewalks today fighting for a better life, you have my support.

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