Here in Clatsop County, Oregon, we are just starting to fight a Wal-Mart super store from invading our beautiful area. Astoria is on the mouth of the Columbia River with a population of 10,000. The next town, about 3 miles south of Astoria, is Warrenton, population 4,600. There is wetlands all around Warrenton. Unfortunately, the City of Warrenton in enthralled with “Big Box” stores. There is a new super-sized Costco (the old one was too small) and a Home Depot. All this is along side a designated scenic by-way!
Now Wal-Mart is planning to grab their share of the wetlands, with the blessing of the city and most of the residents. Astoria will be hurt the most if this assault is accomplished. In the beginning of October, when the local newspaper finally announced that Wal-Mart was coming and it was a “done deal,” I was interviewed in the Daily Astorian about Wal-Mart and before I knew it, I said I would fight it. So to put my money where my mouth is, I enlisted help to fight it. It has been barely a month and we have come up with a name, Clatsop County Citizens for Responsible Development – CRD for short – distributed the Wal-Mart movie and did presentations to all three Chambers of Commerce, Warrenton City council and Astoria City Council, showed the movie for free at our locally owned movie theater, had a public meeting, formed a group with committees, got an experienced lawyer, an organizer who has experience with fighting Wal-Mart, and have an ever-evolving plan to beat them.
Now the hard part begins. Quite a few of us have been involved with recalling our county commissioners and fighting for over 5 years to stop liquefied natural gas (LNG). Some of the high stakes in these fights are the endangered Columbia River salmon that LNG import terminals and tankers will destroy. The experience of these other struggles will come in handy for keeping Wal-Mart out.
By Lori Durheim of Clatsop County Citizens for Responsible Development. For more information, you can email Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the United States, the gap between rich and poor has grown exponentially in recent years. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the number of Americans who do not earn enough to feed themselves and their families. It is likely that some 50 to 60 million Americans, or one in five, are hungry. How is it possible in the land of plenty? And what does the recession reveal about America’s social safety net?
Walmart pulls in billions every year but barely pays its workers a living wage. Not only that but they’ve aggressively resisted efforts among workers to unionize. Walmart’s slogan is Save Money, Live Better. As Vikki Gill, a former Walmart store manager in Illinois says, the company is saving money and living better at the associate’s expense. In this documentary from Walmart Workers for Change, employees discuss their fight for a living wage, union representation, and decent benefits. Walmart’s union busting tactics are notorious but Union Federation Change to Win has been turning up the heat lately and says efforts to unionize are underway at over 100 stores.
$1.8 billion in taxpayer subsidies to cover employees' medical expenses. Lost wages for 1.6 million women. Untold numbers of jobs sent overseas. Wal-Mart continues to turn a profit while America's middle class foots the bill.
Wal-Mart Watch is attributing the death of Jdimytai Damour, trampled last Friday at a Long Island Wal-Mart, to the company's utter failure to provide adequate working conditions for its employees. In a statement released Tuesday, Wal-Mart Watch Executive Director David Nassar said:
"Unfortunately, this disregard is not an isolated situation, but an everyday occurrence. In fact, we receive disturbing workplace accounts from Wal-Mart workers every day and post them on our walmartspeakout.com website. Over the last three and a half years we have exposed the company’s poor treatment of its workers and tried our best to get Wal-Mart to hear the message that the company was putting its workers at risk."
How many Jdimytai Damours will it take before Wal-Mart provides safe working conditions? How many Wal-Mart workers have to suffer before Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott stops declaring, "We like driving the car and we're not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us," and starts supporting his employees' right to unionize?
Perhaps it will take a highly publicized lawsuit. Damour's family is suing Wal-Mart, claiming the mega-retailer did not provide enough security to handle the Black Friday crowd and used advertising techniques specifically designed to "create an environment of frenzy and mayhem." Wal-Mart issued a statement that read, "We consider Mr. Damour part of the Wal-Mart family." So, not only is this how Wal-Mart treats employees, it's also how they treat "family members."
For more on the ugliness of Wal-Mart and our consumer culture, check out Meet the Bloggers tomorrow with Rev. Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping.
I’m used to reading about the high price of U.S. consumerism in the form of environmental devastation or economic inequality, but those ideas remain rather abstract and are measured in charts, graphs and lengthy academic articles. Last Friday, however, we saw the price paid in the much more intimate, familiar and tragic terms of a human life: Jdimytai Damour.
A stampede of shoppers in a Valley Stream Wal-Mart on Friday morning left one worker dead and at least three patrons injured after an impatient crowd broke down the store doors and trampled the seasonal employee, Nassau police said.
Jdimytai Damour of Jamaica, Queens, was pushed to the ground by the 2,000-plus crowd just before 5 a.m. as management was preparing to open the store, which is located across from the main Green Acres Mall building. Hundreds stepped over, around and on the 34-year-old worker as they rushed into the store.
Being Haitian, Damour’s family has probably seen its share of tragedy expressed through violent mobs, but how do you explain to this man’s parents that their son died because a reasonably healthy and well-fed (by global standards) Long Island mob just couldn’t wait to get its hands on a $69 Samsung digital camera?
The murder of Damour is a failure of values at the largest and smallest scales of society.
This video is part of a new project from Wal-Mart Watch – called “Wal-Mart Employees Speak Out” – that launched earlier today. The site, which features stories and video from current and former Wal-Mart employees, is dedicated to giving Wal-Mart’s workers a chance to talk about how the company’s low-wage, poor-benefits business model has impacted their lives. Check it out at: http://walmartspeakout.com
Wal-Mart employees often face retaliation for speaking out about the many problems at the company. The new website is a chance for them to discuss these issues – anonymously, in many cases – without fear of being fired or demoted.
Their stories come at a time when working Americans are suffering more than ever, but while Wal-Mart reaps record profits as the largest corporation in the world. News also broke today that Wal-Mart has just shut down a tire shop in Quebec where workers recently unionized. This news only reinforces the need for sites like Walmartspeakout.com, and is a prime example of how Wal-Mart's business practices hurt workers who try to stand up for their rights.