This entry was written by Frances Causey.
Thankfully, stories of striking workers at Wal-Mart and Hostess are making the front pages of newspapers and leading the “A” blocks of cable news shows. These two companies epitomize the war against workers that began over 40 years ago. Wal-Mart is the poster-child for corporate malfeasance and draconian worker policies. Wal-Mart workers on average are paid so little that the American taxpayer is literally subsidizing these workers as tens of thousands of them have no health benefits which forces them to use state Medicaid for healthcare. Wal-Mart made $15 billion dollars last year. Four out of the America’s top ten Billionaires are Wal-Mart heirs.
Its no better over at Hostess, a company that has been bought and sold three times since the 1980’s, putting the Twinkie maker in debt but making Wall Street investment bankers and top management a bunch of dough (sorry). And guess who bankrolled those deals? Fees and stock deals were funded by employee layoffs! But the biggest ding-dong of all would be the current Hostess CEO who while decrying striking workers for wanting livable wages and benefits gave himself a 300 percent raise.
The American worker-those who live off a paycheck – has experienced “death by a thousand cuts” over the last forty years which we amply portray in HEIST. Despite slick corporate press releases regurgitated by corporate owned media, workers at Wal-Mart and Hostess have been forced to rise up because they can no longer support their families with what they EARN. Forty million good paying jobs with benefits have been shipped overseas or dismantled by corporations since the late 1970’s and were replaced by low wage service jobs with no benefits.
Simply put, working for a living no longer pays for most workers in this country. Incomes in America are much lower than is widely understood. Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter David Cay Johnston crunched the numbers in Heist. One-third of jobs in America pay less than $15,000 a year, which includes part time workers and people with two small jobs. But half of Americans make less than $25,000. Three quarters make less than$54,000. Ninety-nine percent of workers make less than $250,000 per year. HEIST describes the corporate makeover of big government that saw the Democratic Party become almost indistinguishable from Republicans on economic matters. Policies were developed that clearly favored the “capital” class not the “working” class.
American style Democracy has been unique for one simple reason: a majority has- for the most part- benefitted from the fruits of the nation’s labors. But this is no longer true as the workers at Wal-Mart and Hostess know all too well. With nowhere to go, these brave workers are fighting back and making great strides in raising the nation’s consciousness about economic inequality. We must support them! So if you live in a city where Wal-Mart workers are striking, go there this Friday, black Friday, and instead of shopping, take striking workers a sandwich, a bottle of water or give them a pat on the shoulder or a word of encouragement. These workers are “walking the walk”!
For more information on the Wal-Mart workers’ strike, check out forrespect.org
Note: JeffreeB will be available for comment immediately following publication.
This entry is also available at Daily Kos.
Photo by Walmart Corporate under Creative Commons license.