April 10, 2005

Activists spread message, have no effect

Sadly, this is about par for the course. A group of about 30 protesters picketed Wal-Mart in Moline Saturday, and while many drivers honked their approval, traffic to the store wasn't affected in the slightest.

I admire anyone who is committed to their cause enough to protest and at least make some small effort to make others aware of their cause. But the fact remains that most people are blissfully unconcerned with these same issues and the protests have very little impact.

The many issues with Wal-mart deserve to be aired and people really should be aware of them. The group, headed by the local chapter of NOW, the National Organization of Women, listed some of the facts they feel should be addressed in the Dispatch story.
Horns honked in support of the picketers waving their signs, but drivers kept pouring into the Wal-Mart shopping center off John Deere Road Saturday.

About 30 picketers, from the local National Organization for Women chapter and other groups, held signs saying "Always low wages," "boycott Wal-Mart," and chanting "don't shop at Wal-Mart, put away your shopping cart," stood along a meridian [sic] between John Deere Road and the store for more than an hour.

"Taxpayers should really be outraged about Wal-Mart's labor practices," Carol Brown, vice president of the Iowa Quad-Cities NOW chapter, said. "We are trying to educate them. We are really asking people to boycott Wal-Mart."

Among their claims are:

-- Wal-Mart earns billions, but millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on social services for the company and its workers, including Medicaid to Wal-Mart employees.

-- Between 41 to 46 percent of Wal-Mart employees receive health care benefits, compared to 66 percent nationally.

-- Wal-Mart faces a federal class action lawsuit claiming women employees are discriminated against in pay, training and promotion.

-- Eighty-five percent of Wal-Mart goods are produced overseas.

Their reasons for picketing varied from ecology to economics. One protester said, "I miss the wetlands,"
[note: a "meridian" is a longitudinal line of circumference around the earth, so one doubts the protesters were standing along one. The word is "median". Way to go Dispatch copy editors.]


At 4/10/2005 9:21 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Sadly this is symptomatic of the current economy. The 20 somethings shop at Wal Mart - trust me - my own daughter in her twenties even buys some of her clothes there.

The problem is that people are so pinched for money they go for the best price - WalMart - and they are lacking in time these days so look for a one-stop shop - WalMart - so this is the root of the problem.

Henry Ford had a grasp of what was needed in his day - and said something like 'pay the worker enough and make the product that he produces affordable and he will spend his money buying what he makes which keeps the jobs and products coming and grows the company.'

Well I betcha that Henry Ford would never feel like any CEO of today deserves the huge salaries they get nor the severance packages etc etc.

So we have a big problem in the US and with the world economy and it's called - top heavy pay on managers and workers being held down in growth of their wages. Our Prez also feels that illegal foriegn workers are just fine and dandy (can you say Texas?) and that any company who sends jobs overseas is actually creating new jobs for US workers -- still tryin to figure that one out....

Don't you think that the folks who honked wished they could afford to go to Jewel? Yes likely they wish they could because it's a nicer shopping experience for one and there is more selection - but you pay much more.

Glad someone is trying to put light on the issues - and gasp - it's in Moline to boot!!

What brave souls they are.

At 4/10/2005 9:25 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Note the blog's last editorial comment.... about the "Median" wordsmith error -- and you folks who attend the little party for the paper later this month need to point out the lack of "gasp" attention to detail on behalf of the editors at the Dispatch.

Do they think spell check is enough or what??

At 4/10/2005 10:17 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

You are so correct. The bind is that Wal-mart does provide what so many people want, namely, low prices and convenience. And they've been able to do so by many business practices that have had wide-spread negative impact on the environment, workers wages, benefits, and has affected the world economy and workers conditions globally.

Wal-mart is more than just a company, it's a global economic phenomena that has radically changed the entire economic make up of towns across the country and the world. How many local appliance stores are there? How many groceries have gone under? Remember when most grocery chains were actually union with benefits and decent pay? Somehow we all managed to afford groceries then.

But now you are correct. It does take more effort, and more money, to try to avoid Wal-mart and similar stores. There is something inherantly wrong and a bit creepy about looking around you, anywhere you happen to be, and finding the same identical looking chain stores and restaurants.
This all started under Reagan and was done simply to increase the returns of the financial elite. The economy could survive and thrive just fine without most of these huge chains. But they've spread like cancer and gobbled up everything in their paths.

Of course, many have failed, and for several years, you'd see them popping up and closing down almost as soon as they arrived.

But it's time for people to realize that big box rampant development is not always the best thing for a community. It destroyes a town's character, blights it's appearance, and forces local small busineses with roots in the community to go under.
These corporations could care less about the community. They do token charitable works, but if they thought that it would make them a dime more to pack up and move, they'd do it in a heartbeat.

And an important fact of Wal-mart's existence is the massive costs to taxpayers for subsidizing the health care and welfare costs that result when Wal-mart refuses to provide their employees with a living wage or benefits.

At 4/10/2005 11:04 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Yes Dope true words. Do our elected leaders understand this? And if so, are they willing to try and make a difference to the small businessman/woman?

Look over to Davenport and the stupid move the City did with helping Walmart move less than a mile up the road to build a mega mega store - and then leave an empty building behind and then put a 2nd one up in West Davenport. Hope Moline is not going to be prey to these tactics soon -- we will see.


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