|Which elected official sent these guys along?|
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
In response to the protests/strikes by WalMart workers and their supporters yesterday, WalMart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan said that the protests were, just, “…another stunt to garner attention, it's the same old cast members trying to get some attention for their cause." The protesters are just a lot of “…union activists and professional protesters - not a lot of Wal-Mart associates,'' Buchanan added.
WalMart has 4600 stores in the US employing 1.3 million workers, many of then part-time workers earning $8 or $9 an hour. With no union therefore very few rights on the job, the fact that any workers walk of the job is a feat of courage in itself. Buchanan’s comments are standard from the 1%’s spokesperson’s---there’s no problems at WalMart, workers are happy, there are merely a few disgruntled folks and outside agitators.
The coalition leading these protests includes community groups, non-profits and the UFCW, are demanding WalMart pays full-time workers $25,000 a year. Organizing one million workers would bring in a huge revenue stream for the UFCW even if these members were low waged workers that’s how the strategists atop organized labor look at it. It’s possible that WalMart might throw a few crumbs on the table in response to these activities which would add some momentum to the movement perhaps. The UFCW leadership, like the entire leadership of organized Labor is not willing to build a real, militant movement to unionize WalMart which would mean involving trucking (deliveries), the community, and other sections of the class that could force through direct action and strikes, WalMart to accept union recognition.
Sometimes though, mobilizations can get out of control of those who initiate them, the mood can be such that the limits put on them by the leadership are discarded and we know there is much anger and discontent beneath the surface of US society that can break the bonds of acceptable behavior at any time.
In fact what motives this short commentary is the picture included. This is how the cops turned up to one of the WalMart workers’ peaceful protests. It is standard these days and part of the beefing up of state security forces where regular cops and SWAT teams are indistinguishable from each other. The use of drones domestically and the massive spying apparatus that Edward Snowden thankfully revealed to us is also part of this increased state security. The bosses were a little shaken up by the Occupy Movement that showed direct action and defiance of the law is a necessary part of the struggle for a decent life. The object is to intimidate workers with these thugs, terrify us in to submission.
The politicians that make the decisions to send these characters to a peaceful protest by workers earning starvation wages, no doubt receive money and support at election time from the heads of organized labor. Meanwhile, the Walton family heirs have as much wealth as 100 million Americans and Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke earned nearly $20 million in 2012, including pay, stock awards and incentives. That works out to about $9,600 an hour. He got another $21.4 million from exercising stock options and vested shares.
But the more astute political representatives of the bankers recognize the explosive and volatile nature of the present period and their increased security measures are a necessary precaution from their point of view. One has to think that there is no way any politician or public figure that has anything to do with sending a force like those in the picture to protect the rights of the WalMart family are anything but enemies of workers and the poor.
The ongoing crisis of capitalism and the declining influence of US capitalism on the world stage will bring more attacks on workers at home as Washington’s imperialist adventures have to be paid for. All the gains won over the last century are to be taken back. As we have explained many times on this blog, the refusal of the labor leaders to fight and the violent nature of the US authorities has delayed the response to this offensive of capital, has held back a movement of the working class that would introduce an offensive of our own to the equation, but the bosses will not stop, driven as they are by the nature of their system. Our offensive will come, it will not be pretty, it will contain much confusion but it will arrive.