Walmart sues activist for standing up for exploited workers

Source: People’s world

Author: Stewart Acuff

“The world’s largest and most oppressive corporation in the world, Walmart, has sued Gene Lantz, a retired union activist, for standing up for the victims of Walmart, some of the most oppressed workers in the world.

Lantz, the United Food and Commercial WorkersOUR Walmart, and Jobs With Justice have been sued by Walmart for civil trespassing for crossing their parking lots.

We’ve noted in this space before how thin-skinned and controlling the world’s largest global corporations can be. Walmart and others who drive global poverty and the economic race to the bottom can spend huge resources trying to control people in a free society for crossing a parking lot they don’t even own.

I’ve known Gene Lantz for about 20 years through Jobs With Justice. He is a very committed human rights and workers rights activist. His human rights activism goes back to 1967. His workers rights activism goes back to 1984 when he organized fellow workers who had been fired for standing up for a good union contract.

Gene hosts a Saturday morning radio show called Workers Beat at 9 am central on Dallas radio KNON, which is podcast and broadcast on YouTube.

He says that the Walmart lawsuit is part of their “game” to make themselves look like victims – a rich bit of irony since they may have created more economic victims than any other force in the world today. Gene says he doesn’t know if the lawsuit will work.

Walmart is the lowest of the low in corporate exploitation. Their heavy-handed intimidation won’t work on him.

Gene was greeted as a hero by fellow union members, and Jobs With Justice did an action within a week of the filing of the lawsuit.

But the stakes in this fight are high for those who work at Walmart. They fired at least 10 workers the same time they filed suit.

Gene has been making videos of public officials supporting Walmart workers and posting on them YouTube. He believes this may be a key tactic in the long strategy to hold Walmart accountable.”

This article was reposted from Stewart Acuff’s blog.


Emphasis Mine



Increasing Union Membership Would Boost Middle-Class Incomes: Study

From HuffPost, by Jillian Berman

“If the incomes of the union rank-and-file rose by just a tenthmiddle-class incomes would go up $1,479 per year — even for those who aren’t members, according to an analysis of Census data from the Center for American Progress.

The boost in income, while slightly lower than if college-attainment rates went up by 10 percent, is higher than if the unemployment rate dropped by four percentage points — a scenario that would increase middle class incomes by $772 per household, according to the study.

The share of income going to the middle class is below average, in the states with the lowest unionization rates, The Center for American Progress also found.

Union rights have come increasingly under fire as unemployment remains high and companies and municipal governments look to curb spending. In August, a Gallup poll found that approval of unions was just above its lowest-recorded level, dating back to the Great Depression, while union membership dropped to a 70-year low in 2010, according to The New York Times.

In a February poll by the Pew Research Center, though, the number of respondents saying unions have a negative impact on the availability of jobs was the same as those saying they have a positive effect. Opinions like these may be why union influence is dwindling in states including Wisconsin, where last week major state employee unions lost their official status, according to Reuters.

The waning influence of private-sector unions, such as the United Auto Workers, could have something to do with their dwindling numbers, according a Harvard University and University of Washington study. The researchers found that private-sector union membership dropped to 8 percent from 34 percent among men between 1973 and 2007 and to 6 percent from 16 percent for women during the same period.

The effect? A more than 40 percent increase in wage stratification, according to the study.

Here’s where a boost in unionization would most help middle-class incomes, according to the Center for American Progress:

Middle-class household incomes would rise $1,675 per year in New Hampshire, on average, if the unionizaton rate saw a 10 percent boost, according to the Center for American Progress.

Emphasis Mine