Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of December 10, 2012
As “the leader in the retail industry in paying its workers the lowest wages,” Wal-Mart should be barred from doing business in Newark, New Jersey, said Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress. “We need living wage jobs,” said Hamm. “The minimum wage is a slave wage.”
Wal-Mart Exploits Obamacare
President Obama’s health care legislation has been a special boon to Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest corporation. “What changes with Obamacare is that anybody making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level now qualifies for Medicaid,” said journalist Mary Wheeler. In recent months, Wal-Mart has cut the hours of large numbers of workers. “There’s a big incentive for Wal-Mart to make sure that as many of their employees are below the federal poverty level” as possible, said Wheeler.
Multinationals Super-Exploit Third World Workers
Labor unions, elected officials and grassroots activists in New York demanded that multinational corporations be made accountable for working conditions at factories in the developing world. “We must push them to sign the international Fire Safety Act and follow international labor laws,” said Fazi Foezia, a member of DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving – and a Bengladesh national. “They exploit our workers and don’t pay taxes to our governments.” Garment factory fires in Bengladesh and Pakistan have killed hundreds in recent months.
Raising Retail Wages Would Boost Economy
A study by Demos finds that “raising wages in the retails sector at the largest employers to a threshold of $25,000 a year for full-time, year-round workers would bring a million and a half people out of poverty, generate between $11 and $15 billion in GDP, and create between 100,000 and 132,000 new jobs.” Corporations would benefit, too, from a more loyal work force and greater consumer spending power.
Disaster Officials Offer Loans, Not Aid
Federal officials are more concerned with generating loans to fatten the $1 billion a year disaster loan service industry, than in providing direct aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy, according to a study by Strike Debt, an offshoot of the Occupy Movement. Credit-worthiness, rather than need, becomes the watchword, said Strike Debt spokesperson Pamela Brown. “By using the lens of debt, they are exacerbating any kinds of inequalities that are already existing” in disaster-struck areas, “putting renters and minority communities” in additional jeopardy.
No Charge, No Trial, No Justice
Civil and human rights activists gathered at Central Connecticut State University, at New Britain, for a conference on preventive detention, last weekend. President Obama’s preventive detention law, part of the National Defense Authorization Act, was designed to target “those who are engage in dissent,” said conference organizer Daniel Adams. Activists should also oppose more recent legislation that might exempt U.S. citizens from detention without charge or trial. “It’s got to be all of us or none of us,” said Adams.
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