What if the shoppers showed up and there were no workers? That’s the dilemma the nation’s largest low wage employer/retailer could be facing on the day after Thanksgiving. Common Dreams has reposted an article by Josh Eidelson of the Nation, who reports that Walmart workers across the U.S are discussing a major work stoppage on Black Friday.
Negotiation is all about leverage. Walmart will never need its works so much as it will on Black Friday. A major walk out on that day will send a message. Hopefully Walmart and other workers will hear it. All workers deserve a living wage.
In Greece, workers have responded to government austerity plans with a two day general strike. The country’s minimum wage has been cut by 22% and over 150,000 public workers are set to lose their jobs. Who will win? Bankers and their servants in the government.
Belgium firefighters turned their hoses on riot police in protest of an austerity plan that will raise their retirement age. Again, working people pay for the mistakes of politicians and their allies in the financial sector.
Police officers are striking for higher pay in Brazil, a country that does not have to play the austerity game. In this case, workers are using leverage by striking at the beginning of a popular tourist season (carnival) and just two years before the country hosts the World Cup. Criminals, naturally, have been taking advantage of police-free streets, which is forcing the government to call in the military to perform police duties.
Moral of the story: Working people are not happy with the governments that are supposed to represent them but only serve the interest of big money. Faced with low wages and cuts, working people are taking the only action that makes sense – stop working.
The president of France has floated an idea of raising the retirement age by two years. What did French workers do? They shut the country down by striking. High school students also didn’t go to school. That’s terrible, most people would say. I disagree. Teenagers should understand that in a few they will be working full time. What the French workers and students did is democracy at its finest.
What about American workers? Jobs are shipped overseas, salary and pensions are slashed, and unions are marginalized. What do American workers do? Vote for a party that wants to privatize social security and give tax breaks to the top 2%. Or they vote for a party that takes union money, but can’t pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Our democracy comes down to choosing between two parties, neither of which seems to do what is right for working people.
Two local unions here in Chicago – transit workers and teachers – said no when their managers tried to renegotiate contracts. As I posted yesterday, we learned that transit management was giving itself pay raises while it was trying to get workers to forego negotiated salary increases. Transit workers and teachers said, “No.” They suffered layoffs, but they also sent a message.
Until more American workers grow a spine and know what people and powers are hurting their standard of living, they will continue to lose jobs, salary, and security. We need to take a good look at France and Greece. It’s time to send a message.