Comrade Chompsky, Shadowproof Reader: A couple of months ago I placed an ad in Craigslist, seeking shared housing. In itself, this is unremarkable; what makes this one different, is the character of the ad. Entitled “Lifelong Activist Seeks Permanent Share,” it has produced some interesting responses — and frames some of the issues activists must face.
In April, Wal-Mart was the subject of a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after Wal-Mart closed five stores, including one where workers had been fighting for higher wages and benefits and working with a union. Last Week, Wal-Mart announced plans to reopen the stores in late October or early November, but former workers will be forced to reapply.
Late last year, in response to a series of strikes by workers and protests by activists, Walmart agreed to raise wages so that many of the company’s workers received at least a meager $9 an hour in 2015. Unfortunately, Walmart’s entire business model is based on severely exploiting workers in the US, so the order has now come down from Walmart executives to cut workers’ hours to lower company costs.
The pay for CEOs of public companies continued its upward climb in 2014 according to a report by The Conference Board, a business research organization. The report, published in August, claims that total compensation for chief executive officers of US public companies in the Russell 3000 Index rose up 11.9 % from 2013 and as much as 34.7 % from 2010.
On August 19, Monica Sud, a woman from California, filed a class action lawsuit against Costco Wholesale Corporation claiming that the retailer knowingly sold prawns produced by slave labor and never disclosed these practices to customers like herself who bought the products without knowing they were produced by illegal labor.
The modern work environment was already becoming more than a bit Orwellian, with employees being electronically spied on by their bosses to ensure productivity, but now the corporate push for total information awareness of workers is hitting new levels of creepiness. According to a report in Bloomberg, companies are now using biosurveillance technologies to monitor workers.
According to a recent survey by insurance company Allianz Global Assistance, most Americans have not had a vacation in over a year. At one time vacations were considered a necessary benefit of a job, but now workers will not take a paid vacation even when one is offered to them by their employers.
As the White House pushes for more corporate trade deals like TPP, the effects from older ones are still leaving their mark on American workers. Nabisco, now owned by Mondelez International, plans to get rid of half of the workers at the the company’s Southwest Side Chicago bakery and send the jobs to a new facility in Salinas, Mexico. The Mexican facility will now be responsible for making some of Nabisco’s most popular products, including Oreos, and Ritz crackers. In total the Chicago plant will lose 600 jobs and nine production lines.