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Ear to the Ground

‘America’s Storage Shed’ Occupied

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Posted on Mar 10, 2012
nouspique (CC-BY)

Wal-Mart shut down three warehouses in Southern California on Feb. 29 when Occupiers gathered in Mira Loma to ally with unions and show support for the region’s 118,000 storehouse workers, many of whom are underpaid and overworked. —ARK

Salon:

... Unions have been pursuing a new strategy with Walmart, particularly with the warehouse workers in Mira Loma. The Warehouse Workers United is a project of Change to Win, which was set up in 2005, mainly by the Teamsters and Service Employees International Union, as an alternative to the AFL-CIO (and has since foundered). The organizing model hearkens back to the labor militancy of the 1930s before employers gained an enduring advantage after the Taft-Hartley Act passed in 1947. Warehouse Workers United has engaged in door-knocking campaigns in the Inland Empire’s poor communities as well as establishing a workers center. It is trying to use the model of a corporate campaign, which moves beyond the workplace, to mobilize community support to pressure corporations. The goal is to force Walmart to the table, make it accept responsibility for workers in its warehouses, and improve their pay and conditions.

One of those other means is the Occupy movement. The sight of muscular unions (compared to other social movements) dialing 911 for raggedy anarchist-inspired occupiers is a telling sign of the power of the Occupy brand. Lending support to the Walmart workers on Feb. 29 were occupiers from Los Angeles, Fullerton, Riverside and San Bernardino. We arrived to find an overwhelmingly youthful crowd with a band of black bearing homemade plastic shields, gas masks and bandannas across their faces, adding color to the soul-crushing sprawl of the Inland Empire. We followed demonstrators as they wandered to and fro, discovering that all three Walmart distribution centers there had been preemptively shut down.

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By A. Benway, March 11, 2012 at 9:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Occupy X” is, according to a reasonable logic based on the history of “occupations” not a “movement” but a set of or series of signal events or signal actions. In this sense it’s “mummering” - in that tradition. Neither movements nor signal actions are trivial, but it’s important to understand the difference between them. In the present-day example of “Occupy X” the significance is that many Americans now see themselves as excluded and without political power. They’re correct. This isn’t politics, but it does set the stage for politics - probably, I am sorry to say, violent politics. Well, isn’t that the standard (and only) method the elite has?

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By ohiolibgal, March 11, 2012 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

The conditions in these warehouses are horrendous.

I recently read a long article in “Mother Jones” about what goes on in those places. They treat people as subhuman slaves, people can get fired for saying “hi” to another worker or helping them. Standard practice is to fire people for missing for any reason their 1st 2 weeks, if a there is an emergency with a parent or child too bad. After the 1st two weeks they get one sick day for the year.

It’s a by product of our move to an increasingly cold corporate state,fewer and fewer haves who have more and more - and more and more who have not so much who get worked harder and harder for less and less. The Ayn Rand crowd have to be thrilled.

It’s not the US I grew up in, not even close….and it’s not like I’m all that old. I saw the cartoon showing how far the 2012 republicans have moved for Lincoln, heck, Reagan would get booted from that far right loony party today.

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By lostmonster, March 11, 2012 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

I hope their actions bring the issue to the limelight.

Some NPR radio programs interviewed a girl that worked
in a particular storehouse owned my Amazon located
‘somewhere in the midwest’ and she illuminated the
various workers’ rights violations occurring daily;
however her actions and that radio program didn’t seem
to make the issue catch on with the public.

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By pundaint, March 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Good Luck to the strikers and the American People, as this action is linked to our
interests too.

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