Thursday, September 6, 2007

We Don't Need Another Wal-Mart (Carla Ulbrich)

From the latest National NOW newsletter:

Wal-Mart Protests Staged
August 29, 2007

Walmartopia, the musical, begins a run in New York City on Labor Day. According to the Walmartopia website, "It's MOM vs. MART". Walmartopia tells the hilarious and timely tale of Vicki Latrell, a single mom and Wal-Mart employee who speaks out against her company's working conditions and finds herself and her young daughter jettisoned to 2036, into a future where Wal-Mart dominates the entire world!

Walmartopia pokes fun at the largest employer in the U.S. by taking a humorous approach while ranks of grassroots activists continue to raise awareness by holding demonstrations at stores across the country. The largest sex-discrimination suit in history continues to move forward with Wal-Mart facing 1.6 million current and former female employees in the Dukes v. Wal-Mart class action lawsuit. This landmark lawsuit serves as a reminder that, despite passing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination based on gender has yet to be eradicated in the U.S. Wal-Mart, the largest employer in the country continues to discriminate women in pay and promotions, offers a stingy health insurance plan, low wages and allows poor working conditions to exists in their factories abroad.

Without sustained grassroots activism, Wal-Mart would be free to continue paying and promoting women less than they pay their male employees. The visibility of NOW's five year campaign against Wal-Mart continues to raise public awareness of the company's bad business practices. NOW has endorsed an international day of action on November 17 against the five largest supermarket chains in the world and Wal-Mart is one of the U.S. targets. Details will be finalized as actions are coordinated across the U.S. In the meantime, if your plans take you to New York City, go see Walmartopia!

I'm a big fan of the buycott/boycott (putting... or withholding... my money where my mouth is) - it probably started during my high school days in the 70's with Cesar Chavez and grapes and has continued with various causes over the decades.

After the 2004 election, I was motivated by Mark Morford's informative 12/22/04 column to check out - how inspiring to read about its "mission of rewarding companies that have a triple bottom line of people, planet and profit by providing company ratings based on political contributions data. [They] keep Americans up-to-date on how to best vote with their wallets by supporting companies that support progressive candidates and legislation." I have continued to funnel my funds in the left direction - I'm still trying to wean myself off but I've made the switch with many other companies, shared the info with friends and family and, even more importantly, told the corporations I've avoided and those I support *why* I'm doing so...

And were you aware of Curves, the women-only exercise club? - this information is not widely-known, but is enough to head some of us in another fitness direction...

Check out - then... Just Do (or Don't Do) It... :-)

SONG: We Don't Need Another Wal-Mart by Carla Ulbrich

BOOK: The Case Against Wal-Mart by Al Norman

POEM: Shirt by Robert Pinsky

The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes--

The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers--

Like Hart Crane's Bedlamite, "shrill shirt ballooning."
Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord. Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
To wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
Both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.

QUOTE: "Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead

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