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Fri Nov 23, 2012, 08:52 AM

Striking Wal-Mart workers aren't just fighting their employer. They're fighting a whole system.


from The Atlantic:


Who's Really to Blame for the Wal-Mart Strikes? The American Consumer
By Jordan Weissmann


The Wal-Mart workers threatening to walk off the job on Black Friday aren't just fighting their employer. They're fighting a whole system.


Forget the stampeding shoppers, the half-priced waffle irons, or the pepper spray wielding wackos: barring a federal intervention, the main event this Black Friday could turn out to be a showdown between organized labor and its arch corporate nemesis, Wal-Mart.

After organizing the first retail workers' strikes in the company's 50-year history last month, a union-backed group has promised to lead work stoppages and demonstrations at Wal-Mart stores around the country this holiday weekend in protest of its famously aggressive labor practices. Nobody truly knows how big the turnout will be, or if even more than a handful of Wal-Mart's 1.4 million U.S. employees will actually walk off the job. We might witness something historic, or we might witness a sideshow that shoppers ignore while brawling for bargains. Either way, the threat has made Wal-Mart nervous enough to ask the National Labor Relations Board for an injunction stopping the protests. Should they go on, they will be a test of whether, after years of failing to organize the country's largest employer, labor groups still have the wherewithal to take it on.

It would be a mistake, however, to think of this simply as a clash over one company. Rather, it's symptomatic of forces Wal-Mart helped set in motion and now shape our economy in fundamental way. It's about big box retail's refusal to pay a decent wage. It's about the way we've stacked the deck against unions. And it's about the choices we make as consumers.

Wal-Mart's Bad, But the Competition Isn't Much Better

As Harold Meyerson noted recently in The American Prospect, whereas Ford and General Motors paid their factory workers enough to buy the cars they built, Wal-Mart rose up by paying "its workers so little they had to shop at discount stores like Wal-Mart." ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/11/whos-really-to-blame-for-the-wal-mart-strikes-the-american-consumer/265542/



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Reply Striking Wal-Mart workers aren't just fighting their employer. They're fighting a whole system. (Original post)
marmar Nov 2012 OP
onethatcares Nov 2012 #1
xchrom Nov 2012 #2
AllyCat Nov 2012 #3
RKP5637 Nov 2012 #4
FarCenter Nov 2012 #5
marmar Nov 2012 #6
FarCenter Nov 2012 #8
lunatica Nov 2012 #13
FarCenter Nov 2012 #15
CitizenPatriot Nov 2012 #18
FarCenter Nov 2012 #21
xtraxritical Nov 2012 #37
FarCenter Nov 2012 #39
lunatica Nov 2012 #42
Cal Carpenter Nov 2012 #23
ProfessionalLeftist Nov 2012 #28
FarCenter Nov 2012 #32
iemitsu Nov 2012 #38
lunatica Nov 2012 #43
iemitsu Nov 2012 #52
ProfessionalLeftist Nov 2012 #40
redwitch Nov 2012 #7
ProfessionalLeftist Nov 2012 #29
CrispyQ Nov 2012 #9
iemitsu Nov 2012 #41
CrispyQ Nov 2012 #46
Jbradshaw120 Nov 2012 #10
iemitsu Nov 2012 #44
Marrah_G Nov 2012 #11
Chef Eric Nov 2012 #14
FarCenter Nov 2012 #16
llmart Nov 2012 #19
CitizenPatriot Nov 2012 #20
Teamster Jeff Nov 2012 #50
humblebum Nov 2012 #22
Starry Messenger Nov 2012 #26
SHRED Nov 2012 #27
FarCenter Nov 2012 #31
SHRED Nov 2012 #33
FarCenter Nov 2012 #34
SHRED Nov 2012 #35
iemitsu Nov 2012 #47
Teamster Jeff Nov 2012 #51
neverforget Nov 2012 #45
lonestarnot Nov 2012 #36
Lars39 Nov 2012 #48
woo me with science Nov 2012 #55
bigtree Nov 2012 #12
PrMaine Nov 2012 #17
iemitsu Nov 2012 #49
PrMaine Nov 2012 #54
Iliyah Nov 2012 #24
Cal Carpenter Nov 2012 #25
DhhD Nov 2012 #30
libdem4life Nov 2012 #53

Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 09:02 AM

1. add to that the tax incentives they

get in the form of roads built, sales tax relief, and social services and it ends up costing everyone, even if

they don't shop there.

You might also want to check out Cabellas in Pottsville PA to see what kind of "relief" they got while putting

mom & pop stores out of business. Seems the mom & pop stores can't even get a hearing for tax relief.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 09:24 AM

2. du rec. #10. nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 09:47 AM

3. The chorus I hear from friends is "but I get great deals there on Friday!"

What kind of a deal is it if you are eroding your own ability to have a voice in your workplace and government?

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 09:48 AM

4. Wal-Mart is like a viral infection. And R&D for a vaccine has been blocked by the system. n/t

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 09:51 AM

5. Why would consumers support unions that lead to higher prices, poorer service and quality?

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 09:54 AM

6. Que?




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Response to marmar (Reply #6)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 09:57 AM

8. There are twice as many consumers than workers; 7 times as many workers as union members.

Why would consumers be interested in supporting unions which increase wages of a tiny percentage of the population at the expense of raising prices for all?

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #8)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:22 AM

13. You're missinformed

But I bet it's a choice you've made.

Unions have never stopped people from joining them and getting in on fair pay.

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Response to lunatica (Reply #13)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:28 AM

15. Union membership, 2011

In 2011, the union membership rate—the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union—was 11.8 percent, essentially unchanged from 11.9 percent in 2010. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million, also showed little movement over the year. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.

In 2011, 7.6 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with 7.2 million union workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public-sector workers (37.0 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers (6.9 percent).


http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2012/ted_20120130.htm

Unions represent a small special interest group, primarily public sector workers and a tiny minority of workers in older, industrial and mostly dying businesses.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #15)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:48 AM

18. In fact, unions increase the wages

of those around them. See the studies on right to work states.

Sadly, it's beliefs such as those you published that contribute to bringing everyone down via the attitude "why should you get more than me?"

In reality, when unions are strong, the average pay goes up even for non union workers.

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Response to CitizenPatriot (Reply #18)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:53 AM

21. Right to work states tend to have low cost of living.

Heavily unionized states tend to have high cost of living. So the higher wages don't necessarily translate to a better standard of living, especially for non-union workers, retirees, or unemployed in those states. UAW retirees head down I-75 to Florida in droves.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #21)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:34 PM

37. Well look back at the standard of living for everyone and see how much better it was

 

in the 50s & 60s when unions were strong. The standard of living started decreasing drastically when Reagan started union busting.

One source The Christian Science Monitor

The edit was, I wanted to link to BING search "us standard of living" but DU post link would not work, so do it yourself.

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Response to xtraxritical (Reply #37)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:59 PM

39. We were WW II arms merchant's to the winning side and had the only intact manufacturing base

True, the 50's and 60's were a good time for unionized workers in the major industrial cities. But the outcome of WW II had more to do with that era of prosperity than unionization. And beyond the major cities in the rural areas and the south, it was not so good. If things were so wonderful, why did the industrial cities burn in the '60s?

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #15)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 01:04 PM

42. You look at the results without bothering to see how they got there

so I'll double down on my belief on your willful ignorance.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #8)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:57 AM

23. It seems the concept of solidarity has escaped you

Ever hear the saying 'a rising tide lifts all boats'?

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #8)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 11:31 AM

28. Just a couple of problems with your logic:

1. Most consumers ARE ALSO workers and they are all therefore drivers of this economy (demand-side) and;
2. Unions should NOT BE a "tiny percentage" of the population and in fact have not only benefited a "tiny percentage" of the population. WE ALL have 8-hour workdays, weekends, holidays, labor laws thanks to UNIONS - even if most of us do not now belong to one. It was UNIONS that fought for and obtained these things for American workers. They used to be very prevalent and they need to be again.

That they are no longer as prevalent is due to pure corprat greed that seeks to push all wealth to the very top, increase income inequality, and contribute to the horrendous trade imbalances we see in the U.S.

Just sayin'.

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Response to ProfessionalLeftist (Reply #28)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:06 PM

32. The problem with your logic is that American unions are more like Guilds

They exist mainly as a vehicle for extracting special benefits for small, specific groups of workers.

There is no organization that represents the interests of workers generally, except possibly, the Democratic Party.

At this point, attempting to organize workers on traditional union lines is infeasible. It may be feasible to pursue benefits for workers generally through political action, law, and regulation.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #32)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:58 PM

38. You are completely misinformed about the work and mission of unions.

They are not protectionist guilds working for a few against the many, as you suggest. While unions do attempt to protect workers safety, health care, wages, and work schedules no union has ever promoted this at the expense of other workers.
The goal of unions is that all workers enjoy fair labor practices and safe work-places.
Today, as a result of naysayers and anti-union legislation, unions protect and fight for fair labor practices for both union members and non-union members, who are too short-sighted or self-centered to contribute to their own futures by paying union dues.
Many workers wish to opt out of paying a union to represent them in labor disputes but few of these know anything about working conditions before union pressure changed the work-place forever.
Business has waged a war on workers (and unions) and convinced ill-informed workers to join their ranks but that is not evidence that unions have failed to improve working conditions, in fact, it is evidence that they have been successful.
Time to wake up to the reality of the American work-place, FarCenter. It is not unions you should disparage but the greedy goals of unfettered capitalism.

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Response to iemitsu (Reply #38)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 01:05 PM

43. He/she is willfully missinformed

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Response to lunatica (Reply #43)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 04:22 PM

52. yeah, it is obvious.

I suppose I oughtn't to waste my breath.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #32)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:59 PM

40. I don't think *ALL U.S. workers* who in fact enjoy benefits fought for and gained by Unions...

are a "small, specific group of workers". This is millions of people we're talking about, not some "special interest group". Once again you are peddling that faulty logic.

WE ALL enjoy benefits gained by unions. They should be expanded for the purpose of protecting and representing ALL American workers just as they have in the past. And yes, the Democratic Party should be right there alongside them.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 09:56 AM

7. Are you kidding me?

Unions are the reason people have a chance at fair wages, decent working conditions.

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Response to redwitch (Reply #7)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 11:33 AM

29. Exactly! Unions benefit all workers, not just union workers.

And those workers are also the consumers who drive this economy.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:15 AM

9. Because they care about their community more than just themselves?

Good wages benefit the entire community. Look at wages now compared to when we had strong unions. Look at the economy now compared to when we had strong unions & good wages. I don't know how old you are, but if you were born after 1980 then all you've ever heard in the media & from the status quo is that unions are bad.

Labor is an integral part of any business model. Why do we in America put such little value on it? We didn't always, but we do now. Labor always takes the first & biggest hit, sometimes the only hit. And the media is a big part of it. They aren't reporting on Hostess' management bonuses, but rather the workers who are in the union. Workers by the way, who agreed to a pay cut a few years back & then were asked to take another one recently, while management got bonuses.

Trickle down is a lie propagated by a two-bit actor|puppet who looked good on camera. Too many Americans swallowed it because it allowed them to justify their greed.

on edit: I think it was Michael Moore who said that we've gone from being a country of WE to a country of ME. Pretty much nails it up, I think.

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #9)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 01:03 PM

41. Right on, CrispyQ

"Trickle down is a lie propagated by a two-bit actor|puppet who looked good on camera. Too many Americans swallowed it because it allowed them to justify their greed".
To that I would add, Americans swallowed it because it allowed them to justify their greed and racism.

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Response to iemitsu (Reply #41)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 02:16 PM

46. That is a very good addition!

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:19 AM

10. Are you kidding me???

Union workers are not providing substandard service in fact they provide the opposite. Many working under union contracts are provided quality wages and benefits that provide incentive to stay and through years of service bring a good understanding of the business. Allowing excellent service. When workers organize everyone in the industry benefits except maybe the upper corporate management. Unions raise the standards of pay and benefits for union and non union members. Unions are not perfect, but I have yet to find a more effective way to better tge lot of workers in any given industry, and these benefits bleed out to everyone whether they are union or not. See for examples the 8 hr day, 40 hr week, weekends, safe working conditions, as well as their continuing fight for affordable quality health insurance. That is why customers should support workers unless the intent of the customer is to win the race to the bottom.

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Response to Jbradshaw120 (Reply #10)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 01:21 PM

44. Even corporate management benefits from a union shop.

What they can extract, in the short term, from the business may be reduced but the business benefits from the production of superior quality products (happy workers) and a business model that considers sustainability and the health of the community.
The owners or CEOs of such businesses can hold their heads high and are accepted as leaders of the community, a situation clearly beneficial to the rich and their families, rather than be seen as pariahs and leeches, the problems in their worker's lives.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:19 AM

11. What???????

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:25 AM

14. "Poorer service and quality"?

How would a union of Walmart workers lead to "poorer service and quality"? Do you have some factual basis for such an assertion?

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Response to Chef Eric (Reply #14)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:32 AM

16. Union greivance procedures make it more difficult to fire poor workers

Who are either unable or unwilling to perform their jobs correctly.

There are also problems with productivity and quality of service during labor-management negotiations and strikes. For example, striking transit workers impair the quality of transit service.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #16)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:49 AM

19. You are either woefully misinformed about unions....

and their history or have just chosen to drink the Kool Aid that has been dished out about unions since the Reagan years. I have been on both sides of the union/management spectrum (at the same workplace no less) and I can tell you from experience, the number of employees who use the union to be "lazy" or threaten grievances so that they won't be fired for that laziness is a very, very small percentage. The vast majority of union workers are hardworking men and women.

And if you truly think that management is going to reward you just because you're a hard worker, well, think again. When I was in administration at this union place, the powers that be would just dare you to complain about a 1% raise or no raise at all, despite the fact that I was probably the hardest worker there.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #16)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:49 AM

20. Irony

NOt having a union makes it very hard to stop the boss from firing anyone at will. See right to work states.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #16)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 02:54 PM

50. Wow..Right out of the Union Busters Corporate Handbook

Tool

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:54 AM

22. Many consumers support unions because consumers are also workers and

 

it is workers who are watching their jobs evaporate in favor of near-slave wages paid to foreign workers. I would gladly pay a little more for products made by American workers, but they are not always available.

We need "fair trade" not "free trade" -there is a huge difference. If it means limited protectionism, then so be it.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 11:16 AM

26. Wow.

Well you can always move to a country with no unions. Write and let us know how you're enjoying the low cost of living in Somalia.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 11:30 AM

27. 11,000+ posts here I see

And all with an attitude against organized labor.

Proof that the DU is way too tolerant of you.

Anti-union is anti-Democratic Party


--

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Response to SHRED (Reply #27)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 11:58 AM

31. The Democratic Party is based on other things than pro-union

Consumer protection, retiree benefits, health benefits, pro-choice, LGBT rights, environmental protection, climate change, women's rights, worker's rights, vegetarianism, animal protection, etc.

Unions? not so much.

It is better to write worker protections into law and regulations and have them apply to all workers than to organize specific companies and industries and negotiate protections by contract. For example, raising the minimum wage for all workers.

Same thing with health and pension benefits. It is better to have a single payer health insurance system that applies to all, rather than have employer health benefits that are lost when an employee loses or changes jobs. Pension benefits from companies are often lost when the employer goes out of business.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #31)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:08 PM

33. yes to all you say...


...however again...being anti-organized labor is the same as being against the Democratic Party. You cannot separate the two and if that is done it is done at the peril of the Democratic Party.

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Response to SHRED (Reply #33)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:15 PM

34. The Democratic Party supports organized labor at its peril

2/3 of union members are public employees.

Most voters are taxpayers, and a very small percentage are union members (see above).

Taxpayers are to public employees as Walmart stockholders are to Walmart employees.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #34)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:19 PM

35. If it wasn't for organized labor and the boots on the ground they provided...


...we would be looking at a President Romney.

Fuck your insults.


--

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #34)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 02:32 PM

47. You are an insulting and mis-informed fool to suggest

that public employees are a burden to taxpayers or communities.
Public employees provide better services and at lower costs than any private sector business. In all cases this is true. The myth of lazy public employees is nothing more than a myth.
It is also a myth that private sector businesses provide more efficient or better quality products or services than public sector employees provide.
The goal of private sector endeavors is profit, to benefit the owners of private businesses. They and their employees expect, and receive, more generous compensation than public employees and they cut corners and costs where ever they can. This does not result in less cost to the tax-payer.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #34)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 03:06 PM

51. The Democratic Party supports Corporate scumbags and Third Way scab assholes at its peril

For every asslicking corporate weenie there are 1000 hard working union or non union people who vote.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #31)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 01:22 PM

45. All those benefits that you enjoy today, you can thank a union member like my dad

who fought for those rights as a member of the United Transportation Union (UTU). They fought for time off, weekends, overtime, workplace safety, etc. Instead you spit in their faces.

Do you really think that CEO's give a shit about you and your welfare? All they care about is the bottom line. Workers are parts that can be replaced at will.

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Response to SHRED (Reply #27)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:22 PM

36. +14k

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 02:41 PM

48. And less profit for the company owners like the Waltons?

That seems to be the bottom line for you. Cry me a fuckin' river.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #5)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:43 AM

55. Transparent Third Way propaganda nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:20 AM

12. rec

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:46 AM

17. What are the Alternatives?

Depending on where you live there are alternative places to shop and some of them are even good alternatives.

In many big cities around the country, shoppers have a Costco they can go to instead of Sam's Club. Costco has a good reputation for treating their workers well. Unfortunately, Costco has not opened a store in central Maine where I live; in fact I don't know of any Costco store in Maine so I don't have that choice.

However, Maine has retained more locally-owned and operated stores than most other parts of the country. They are not as big or well stocked as the big nationally operated stores but they do give good service and often good prices.

What occurs to me is that I really don't know what other nationally operated stores, including internet stores treat their employees well and should be supported. If anyone has some insight into where such information exists or could be gathered, that would be a great service to offer.

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Response to PrMaine (Reply #17)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 02:42 PM

49. I don't think that big, nationally operated stores

are necessarily better stocked than locally-owned and operated stores.
Everything is computer driven in the corporate stores and one of the results is a lack of in-store stock.
I find this situation to be a very frustrating aspect of shopping so I avoid the mega-stores for smaller, more personalized service.
Small stores may have products, missing from shelves, in stock and can retrieve items for customers, or they can order items for customers easily. Large, chain stores don't seem to offer such assistance.

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Response to iemitsu (Reply #49)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:31 AM

54. The Price of Capital

It comes down to the availability of capital. Almost always, merchandise on the shelf of a retail store was bought or rented using borrowed money and the cost of that money is the issue. Big stores can borrow more cheaply than can the small mom-and-pop store and consequently the big stores can afford to stock more merchandise. Generally, the national and international stores are bigger and have more access to cheap money than are the local stores. There are occasional exceptions of course.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 11:08 AM

24. That is the GOP way, going backward for employees and total profit for employers

Go figure, the 21st century, and the GOP wants it to be 1900s again. Liberals are trying to move forward. Unions are very important, and no body will ever tell me otherwise.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 11:09 AM

25. Bullshit

So close and yet so far.

Blaming consumers and implying this is a matter of personal choices is a dangerous and counterproductive thing.

The systemic change that is necessary (as even this author concedes) will not come about by changing our shopping habits. It is condescending and alienating to frame things this way.

We need to be empowered by identifying ourselves as citizens and workers, not limit ourselves by letting bourgie writers define us as 'consumers' whose only power is in our ever shrinking pocketbooks

Blame the system and the politicians and billionaires who protect it, not the people.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 11:37 AM

30. Corporations and companies that pay low wages and provide no benefits are shifting their worker's

cost of living on to the taxpayers. Paying low wages to a worker that makes a fortune for a company like Wally World is another Trickle-Up Conservative/Austerity policy. People on or below a living wage go apply to the state/federal government for food stamps and TANF rent benefits. These workers apply for Medicaid for their children and county health care benefits for themselves because they are so far below the poverty level. Can you get by on a less than half time job that pays minimum wage? They get help with utilities also. So instead of returning a living wage and health benefits back to the workers, a company like Wally World just sends the money up to the .01% owners so they can HOARD the money in some kind of an account. Think about how the worker could have paid taxes to the US Treasury instead of draining the state and federal Reserves. All of this money is moving up to the Owners at YOUR expense in paying additional taxes to cover for Wally World's RESPONSIBILITY. And you have been brainwashed to accept this austerity by the RW Reaganists Conservatives/Trickle-Up Scammers.

The labor union workers are trying to tell the taxpayers to make Wally World pay them a living wage so they will not need to apply for welfare benefits. Why should you the taxpayer foot the bill for a living for these workers and their family when Wally World can surely and easily care for their own responsibility to the workers and to the taxpayers, both their customers.
I do not like being shit on by Wally World. I think that I need to shop elsewhere like Cos Co where the workers are considered partners in making a business and a shopping system work for everybody. That is the American way.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 04:39 PM

53. Visited my Western Oklahoma sister annually for many years ... like watching a WalMart time-lapse

nightmare. Thriving regional areas turned into economic wasteland. Former family farms turned into soon-to-be-fallow tools of agribusiness. Each year, one or two or three local businesses had closed each time I'd visit. Now, almost all youth went to larger regions or the City...inner or suburban. The only other choice being the military for job training...then back to get "jobs". I left almost 50 years ago for the West Coast...the ultimate escape. Now, there is very little left for Small Town America. Vulture Capitalism and Agribusiness has divvied it up.

Took them longer in urban areas because there was actual competition and City Planners held out by not issuing permits in many areas.

The Red State/Blue State conversation is now mostly economic, but born in the continuum of the Rural..."We take care of our own" and don't need the government telling us (or taxing us)how to do it. I've got my gun to feed us and enforce...its Us vs. Them.

The Urban..."We take care of (by taxing) whoever shows up and needs unemployment, food stamps, welfare, health care...rural youth, immigrants, women, disabled...because it's the right thing to do and it discourages social unrest. No guns.

Oversimplified, but WalMart is the wealthy, greedy poster child of all that sucks about the social and economic changes, to be sure. A dependence on cheap goods (as opposed to real goods at cheaper prices) does not save the consumer money. It costs more.

A big box marketer I knew said the prices are rigged...1/3 are "sale" price, 1/3 are normal markup, 1/3 are high. When one factors in the element of buying in bulk, it's even easier to pull off. It's the science of rotating these figures, based on shopping patterns, etc.

A good start would be to increase the minimum wage, empower the unions by subsidizing the union fee, allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, remove the FICA cap rate, and lower the retirement age.

Then, let negotiations begin.

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