A Tucson, Arizona, a nonprofit soup kitchen rejected a donation from Walmart, calling it "blood money." "They pay lousy wages, they're anti-union, and they're detrimental to small businesses that operate in the area," said the head of the Casa Maria soup kitchen, which is run by the Catholic Worker, according to this article in the Arizona Republic. God bless the Catholic Worker!
And is anyone really surprised that Walmart is complicit in the recent tragic fire at the Tazreen sweatshop in Bangladesh, where over 112 mostly young women sewing operators were needlessly burned to death, 101 years after the Triangle Fire? In this column in the Washington Post, Harold Meyerson reveals Walmart's hypocrisy about its use of sweatshop labor to produce the toys and clothing it sells in its stores.
The Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights is urging people of conscience to write to Walmart's CEO Mike Duke to demand that they compensate the families, whose young daughters and sons were killed, with a payment of $50,000 for each person who was burned to death. You can sign the petition here.
The nationwide protest at Walmart's around the country on Black Friday (the big shopping day after Thanksgiving) was a huge success. The goal wasn't to stop shoppers from buying at Walmart, but to raise awareness about Walmart's practices and to begin the process of mobilizing Walmart's workers to demand more respect, dignity, pay, and benefits. The longest march begins with a single step. The struggle to organize Walmart workers will take years, but the momentum is underway. It is key to challenging the declining living standards of America's workers ad families. I was pleased by the diverse turnout and the enthusiasm at the rally at the Walmart in Paramount, including many folks from the Altadena/Pasadena area. Nine people, including several brave Walmart workers, got arrested, which was necessary to draw the attention of the cynical media.
Annette Bernhardt's fantastic article,"What Kind of Walmart Do We Want for Our Society?" explains the overall stakes in this effort to hold Walmart accountable for its abusive practices. Several years ago, NY Times reporter Steven Greenhouse write, "How Costco Became the Anti-Walmart," pointing out that Walmart's business plan -- low wages, part-time workers, hostility toward unions -- is not inevitable, even most big-box stores.