Category Archives: Environmental Justice

Retail Rebellion

Reinventing Organized Labor in the Walmart Economy

January 15, 2013

First published at The Neoprogressive. Also published at Counterpunch and Common Dreams.

In 1962, Arkansas businessman Sam Walton opened the first Walmart discount store, setting in motion the rapid ascendance of a corporate giant that would redefine markets around the world. With its focus on competitive prices and vast distribution networks that revolutionized the industry, Walmart grew over the course of the 20th century to become the world’s largest company.

Today, its retail empire covers 15 countries with over 8,900 stores employing 2.2 million people. Like all empires, its success is built on contradictions and exploitation. Read the rest of this entry

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Historic Union Victory and New Promise for Port Drivers

April 21, 2012

Published at CounterPunch.

In an era of defeat and decline for the labor movement, pathbreaking organizing victories are rare. Union activity in these times is more likely to revolve around defensive battles than conquering new territory or reclaiming ground that was lost decades ago.

Earlier this month, a rare election victory by port truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles signaled a big step forward in the fight to organize a deregulated industry that is rife with worker abuse.

The 46-to-15 vote by Toll Group drivers in favor of joining the Teamsters was the first of its kind in nearly 30 years. And Toll, an $8.8 billion Australia-based logistics company, fought the workers every step of the way. 

But the workers’ historic victory has given new hope to other drivers throughout the industry. Read the rest of this entry

Amid Possible Strike, D.C. Labor and Occupy Movements March Together

October 14, 2011

Published at Common Dreams and Socialist Worker.                  (Update: 32BJ Contract Settlement)

If Wall Street has become the symbolic nerve center for greed and inequality, its political traffic merges onto K Street, Washington DC’s Broadway for deep-pocketed corporate lobbyists.

Photo by Chris Garlock, Union City

But like Wall Street, K Street is now also home to activists who are fed up with a system that rewards the wealthy while delivering nothing but cuts to the rest of us. Part of the general Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread around the country, “Occupy DC” activists are camped out in MacPherson Square where they are working to replicate the kind of occupation that has rocked the streets of New York’s financial district for the last month.

This week, K Street was also part of a march route for building cleaners fighting for a fair contract. The workers – who are preparing for a possible strike in the coming days – marched shoulder to shoulder with Occupy DC protesters. Read the rest of this entry

Profit Against People and the Planet

June 3, 2011

[SubDisp Exclusive]

Some Favorite Articles this Week from a Favorite Website

The race for profit is the singular driving force behind capitalism. There is no altruistic motivation that trumps the private thirst for accumulating capital from what should otherwise be the public domain. That domain consists of two fundamental components: natural resources and the human labor that works off of those resources. Today, the corporate drive for profit necessarily runs roughshod over these two forces. It operates with a spectacular disregard for the well-being of both human and natural resources.

A conflict between labor and capital that erupted in the early 1920s in West Virginia between coal miners and bosses marked the largest insurrection in U.S. history after the Civil War. The Battle of Blair Mountain saw thousands of armed miners descending from the mountains and battling the hired thugs of the coal companies in Mingo County. The companies used violence in the form of goons that murdered and terrorized workers, strikers, organizers and their families – all in the name of preventing the workers from organizing a union and to keep the United Mine Workers union out of southern West Virginia. Martial law and the use of violence – as was touched upon in the last SubterraneanDispatcher article – revealed the bloody measures that both bosses and the state resort to in order to protect the wealth of a few. Read the rest of this entry

Gulf Coast Guestworkers Launch Hunger Strike Against Labor Abuses

May 15, 2008

Published at Labor is Not a Commodity.

A corporate model that puts profit before people is not interested in leaving the brutal practice of human trafficking and slavery to rot in the proverbial dustbin of history, much less modern worker exploitation. Today that callous model is resurrecting such long-denounced practices through the temporary H2B worker program and stripping the dignity of some 550 Indian guestworkers brought to the U.S. to work in the post-Katrina reconstruction of the Gulf Coast. Read the rest of this entry

Ralph Nader Remains a Friend of Labor

March 11, 2008

Published at Labor is Not a Commodity.

Before a nearly packed lecture hall at George Washington University last Thursday, Ralph Nader’s campaign for president announced the candidacy of his running mate, Matt Gonzalez, for vice president. Nader, who in previous election bids has run on the Green Party ticket, is campaigning as an independent, carrying his extensive career as a consumer advocate fighting against corporate interests and the duopoly of the Republican-Democratic party machine into the fray of the 2008 elections. Read the rest of this entry