Friday, February 03, 2012



Here's an interesting item and an appeal for solidarity from the Making Change At Walmart group.

Workers win injunction against Walmart contractors
Posted on February 2, 2012 by benjaminwaxman

Yesterday, employees working for two Walmart contractors that operate warehouse facilities won a major victory in federal court. The U.S. District Court for Central District of California issued an injunction prohibiting two companies, Schneider Logistics and Rogers-Premier Unloading Services, from firing workers who participated in a federal class action lawsuit to recover stolen wages. As a result, workers will be able to keep their jobs, which were scheduled to be eliminated on February 24th.

Why did workers sue in the first place? According to Jose Tejeda, a worker who is employed by Schneider Logistics, conditions in the warehouses are pretty brutal. During a conference call organized by Warehouse Workers United, Tejeda said that workers were required to work long hours without a bathroom break and could be punished by supervisors for taking a sick day. Another worker, Manuel Gonzalez, said that workers are often required to work 12 hour days and do not receive overtime. These types of conditions are why Tejeda, Gonzalez, and other warehouse workers joined together to sue the Walmart contractors.

That provoked a response. Janet Herold, an attorney representing the warehouse workers, said that management in one of the facilities gathered together all employees and said that anyone participating in the lawsuit would “be crushed.” The employees were then notified that there would be a mass firing of all workers involved in the case. Thankfully, the ruling that came down yesterday means that workers will be able to keep their jobs.

However, a single lawsuit isn’t the answer to preventing this kind of abuse in the future. Walmart must adopt a responsible contractor policy, which would require any company working for the retail giant to meet basic labor standards. That’s the only way to ensure that warehouse workers won’t be abused in the future.

Click here to sign a petition supporting the Warehouse Workers!


Kreditanstalt said...

Were I a Walmart shareholder, I'd feel somewhat aggrieved.

This kind of court interference in what should be a free market - free interplay between capital, labour and resources - is a threat to all investors and to all who put up risk capital. It's also a threat to all recipients of dividends, to those on fixed incomes and to the emploees of the company.

RISK has every right to expect financial rewards, as does labour, but neither can gain without free market interplay. I'd go further to say that the shareholders, as owners of the business and assumers of that risk, should profit before the hired help.

Walmart succeeds on PRICE. Government intrusion into the marketplace, in the form of minimum wages, imposed work conditions or suchlike can only damage a business. I don't always like the effects of free market competition but it is undeniable that driving up costs will kill marginal businesses.

BTW, (Walmart's) profits, however huge they may be - are the raison d'etre for starting the business. There is no such thing as "excessive profits"!

Increases in Walmart's costs risk turning it into Safeway...or the Post Office...

mollymew said...

Well, I have to give you points for consistency if not for common sense and morality. Never mind that the famous "fixed income" section of the population lives on a combination of government pensions (which you no doubt detest) and conservative investments such as bonds rather than equity. Never mind that the Walmart employees who are trying to organize have a close up view of their interests that you could never have.

Other things that amuse me about your reply:
1)Pray tell me why people who have put up part of their lives in work have LESS right to profit than large shareholders who never had to give the equivalent work to gain their wealth. Quite frankly there are not enough hours in 10,000 years to justify the inequality in our societies today.
2)Rather than look this up I'll ask you to do the research. Is Walmart even a publically traded company ?

But mainly I'd like to leave you with this. Let the following concessions to a free market happen long before we get to eliminating "minimum wage". First of all close all the loopholes and cease to allow the rich to not to pay their fair share of taxes. Second lets withdraw ALL public infrastrucure (whether it be federal, provincial, state or municipal) GRANTS to organizations such as Walmart. Let the bastards pay for their own sewer, water and roads. Furthermore let them no longer profit from such evil attacks on the market as fire and police services. Let the bastards hire their own fire department.

Furthermore and finally lets eliminate ALL interference with the market by eliminating ALL action on the part of government to tip the scales against labour. For instance if Walmart employees unionize and occupy a store and even begin to sell commodities in the store there should be no interference on the part of the state in this "free market" situation.

Do I hear the sound of the final little piggy running back to Papa State for support against such principles of the free market ?

mollymew said...

Well I got impatient and did the research myself. Walmart is indeed a publically traded company. In the latest dividend offering the number was $1.21 per share. The share price at the time was $61.98. This translates as a "payout" of about 1.9%. Pretty well all GICs here in Canada pay more. If I had the misfortune of being a Walmart shareholder despite the advise of those an honest financial adviser I's be much more peaved about the HUGE amounts stolen by the Walton Family rather than a piddling little amount awarded to workers.

Kreditanstalt said...

Mollymew, thank for taking the time to reply. I'm having some trouble understanding how your position differs from one of advocating pure socialism. All I can surmise is that you oppose the idea of private property.

But private property is rooted in antiquity. The idea was that one who occupies or improves a piece of land or obtains some other asset by dint of discovery or trade has the right to enjoy the profit from that work or find.

Walmart is property. It belongs to those who risked their capital, did the work to set it up and run the company - not to the hired help. In fact, it is in the best interests of the company to hire as little expensive labour as is necessary, commensurate of course with work of acceptable quality being peformed. Any benefit obtained SHOULD go to the owners of the property/company. Walmart is not a charity set up to provie for the employees needs.

I'm not saying this a good situation. It is likely one that necessarily leads to some suffering and accentuates the division between owners of capital and sellers of labour - not something I like to see anymore than you do.

In a state of nature with finite resources - which still exists hidden and cannot be masked, ameliorated or abolished by collective action of some government - there is competition for those scarce resources. The weak will lose out, as will the silly, the ignorant, the lazy, the guileless and the insufficiently ruthless. NOT good and, as you mention, not "fair" or "equal", but nothing to lose sleep over as it evolved naturally in response to scarcity. And inequality is an unavoidable result if one is consistent in applying the idea of privately-held property.

"Pray tell me why people who have put up part of their lives in work have LESS right to profit than large shareholders who never had to give the equivalent work to gain their wealth."

So my short answer to that is that a)risk must be rewarded as a surrender of part of one's private property and b)the possessors of private property have a right to enjoy the use of it.

As to your last comment, I'd prefer private policing but, unfortunately we have to deal with the current government police forces. They have the guns. Walmart would not be able to evict "occupying (stealing!) employees" by itself...

mollymew said...

Thanks for the reply Kreditanstalt. First of all I'll have to shift what I say as you appear to be a consistant libertarian in the American sense. Out here in the civilized world "libertarian" tends to be a cover for either cultural conservatism or simple brutality.

Perhaps I may be advocating "pure socialism" but because it is anti-state it is far from the common American definition of such. One should not take the ideas of a political wing in a country that thinks "Obama is socialist". Coo-coo !

What I personally prefer for some hypothetical future is a mixed economy wherein the "collectivist" part would be either via workers' councils or syndicates, the "communist"(in the original sense of the word and not what Americans are taught) part would be municipal and governed by citizens assemblies, but there would also be a monetary economy that would take in both part of the collectivist economy and ALSO small scale individual production that would exists in a free market.

What I would personally prefer is, of course, as non-existent as what you would prefer. I will, however, get to that later. It will take more than one post to answer you.

Larry Gambone said...

I wish the shareholders of Walmart a slow painful death. Fuck Walmart and everything it stands for!

Kreditanstalt said...

Well Larry, I like Walmart!

I get the cheapest milk - local, Vancouver Island milk - there. And I see no reason why I should shop elsewhere, paying more, just so inefficient stores can pay their hired help more.

Businesses are not charities. They're in business to make a profit for the owners and, in doing so, they create satisfied consumers.

You can't lobby for control of the government gun and then use that force to stop people sourcing, obtaining and offering cheaper and/or better goods. Nor can you sto the free consumer from buying them...

mollymew said...

Well I'm sorry Kreditanstalt for assuming you were American. It's just that you sound just like them. This debate will soon fall below the "event horizon" at Molly's Blog so I'd like to make a few final comments. First it is an illusion that ANY enterprise ion our economy made its success via a glorious "capitalist realism" history ala the master illusionist Ann Rand. All business in our society benefits from the "socialization of risk" via government, and this is hardly restricted to fire protection. If you want a libertarian viewpoint of just how much present day "capitalism", including Walmart depends on the state I refer you to the works of Kevin Carson. Large business in our society exists in an incredibly risk free coccoon provided by government.

Then there is the question of who is taking a risk. The stockholders of Walmart are being fleeced by the Walton family as I've mentioned before. The "payout for risk" for the average invester in Walmart equity is considerably less than the payout for the EWalton family. Don't they take the same risk or is there some magical alchemy whereby a 10% loss for the controllers of the corp is very much greater than the loss for an ordinary stockholder.

What "risk" is to be taken as some bizarre moral downpayment that MUST be rewarded to the detriment of the investment of time and the "opportunity cost" made by those you sneeringly refer to as the "hired help" ? I'm sure that your strange idea that risk MUST be rewarded would be a winner at casinos. If you want a friendly audience go and preach there.

Some of your problem is that you overgeneralize from small scale individual transactions to a complex economy and society where simple minded ideas are not applicable no matter how "logical" they may in some abstract world.