Everyone wants to talk about the NSA right now, which is great. Personally, I have been bouncing from one theory to another. But before we return to the bouncing, let's pause to take a look at some hard realities. And for many working people, there is no harder reality than Walmart
The company is having a big corporate confab in Bentonville, Arkansas, and the entertainment is said to include Justin Timberlake (I believe that he is some sort of singer) and Beyonce (also a singer, and absolutely gorgeous). Perhaps someone should ask those two if they don't have more respectable gigs to play.
More importantly, representatives of working people will also be there, trying to make their own voices heard:
Lobby group Making Change at Walmart raised over $9,000 on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo to bring to the meeting Kalpona Akter, a former child textile laborer from Bangladesh. She is being accompanied by Sumi Abedin, a survivor of the deadly fire that killed at least 112 garment workers at the Tazreen Fashion factory on the outskirts of Dhaka last year.
Akter will call on Walmart to sign a legally binding agreement to improve working conditions in her country’s textile factories that many of the company’s rivals have signed following a building collapse in April that left over 1,127 dead.
Bangladesh’s textile workers work 11 to 14 hours a day, six, sometimes seven, days a week for $37 a month, says Akter. Conditions are dangerous. A total of 1,239 workers were killed in the recent building collapse outside Dhaka and a factory fire last year, and another 450 were reported ill this week, some hospitalized, after drinking unsafe water at another factory. “Whenever workers try to organise, they are threatened, beaten,” said Akter.
Workers have little choice but to put up with the conditions, she said. “There is truly no alternative,” said Akter.
Meanwhile, things are also pretty bad in the U.S. -- especially in the warehouses that supply Walmart stores.
Garcia, 20, has worked in a warehouse since February 2012. Though she dreams of college, she struggles to get by on just $8 an hour, with no benefits. That means she has to take tough choices as she raises her two-year-old son, Christian. “Gas is so expensive. Sometimes I feel that I am only earning enough to pay for the gas that allows me to drive my car to my job,” she said. “I do not earn enough. I cannot survive like this.”
It's a little hard to get the public to rally in favor of store policies that would have the effect of raising prices. In essence, though, this is what we need.
If you happen to know Timberlake or Beyonce, perhaps you could ask them to choose their venues a little more thoughtfully.