November 12, 2005

Remember the Workers At Wal-Mart

In all the uproar about the juicy details of Wal-Mart's evils and faults, I want to urge individual progressives, liberals, and pro-trade unionists to remember that the vast majority of workers at Wal-Mart are not management types seeking to exploit overtime, pay workers less, avoid providing benefits as much as possible, and working to bust unions. Yes, let's be outraged at what Wal-Mart does and what it represents. But let's not lose sight of the fact that there are some 1.3 million workers at Wal-Mart, and most are not our enemies.

Most of the workers are low income, struggling women and men, who are trying to make a living, buy food for their kids, pay their rent or mortgage (in the unlikely event that they own a home), stay out of bankruptcy, keep their vehicle running, heat their homes, and maybe even try to get a GED or an associates degree while they are at it. Many of them work two jobs. Many of them get food assistance from the government. Half of their kids don't even have health insurance coverage, much less dental coverage.

Those of us who are opposing Wal-Mart, attacking Wal-Mart ceaselessly in our blogs and organizational websites and sending money to the anti-Wal-Mart websites, need to keep in mind that those Wal-Mart workers are our potential allies. Do we want to destroy Wal-Mart and lose them all their jobs? Or do we want to help them change Wal-Mart so that they keep their jobs, but receive better pay, better working conditions, and better benefits? How can we support these workers and those trade unions who are trying work directly with the workers take this fight directly to the floor of all the Wal-Marts nationwide?

I am not suggesting we do not need to support the organizations that are doing the research, making the films, and helping to expose Wal-Mart's anti-worker nature. That educational and informational effort is much needed and valued. But let's not lose sight of what we are trying to do -- change a corporate culture of exploitation.

Here is one specific thing you can do to help the workers organize and to help the unions that are working to organize them.:

Every one of you who is a writer of any kind (a journalist, blogger, newsletter writer, poet, novelist or short story writer, essayist, editor), join the National Writers Union.

The only really effective way we can confront and defeat the plutocracy, that government which is ruled by corporate wealth and power, is if we are stronger. And the only way we can be stronger is if, as writers, as intellectuals, as progressives, and as workers, we unite to become stronger.

Why do you think that corporations fight so aggressively and viciously against union organizing by their workers? Corporations don't think twice about breaking the law to prevent their workers from organizing.

Trade unions threaten their monopolistic and overarching power. It's that simple.

1 comment:

David Kaslow said...

Thanks, Steve, for not losing the proverbial sight of the forest for the trees. DK