Tag: Wal-Mart

Be a Good Patriot — Die Quickly!

Crossposted at Booman Tribune

Alan Grayson has recently raised the ire of the corpatocracy and their volunteer army of teabaggers merely by simply stating the obvious, this being our obligation as good citizens, as defined by the Republican Party and the mislabeled “centrists” of the Democratic Party:

1. Don’t get sick.

2. If you do get sick…

3. Die quickly.

The Economic Royalist cabal has cried loudly, and in unison, demanding that Mr. Grayson apologize.  And even some in the so-called liberal blogosphere have joined the call for him to fall on his sword for his Holocaust reference. Although the numbers of dead (officially) are not yet as large, Big Money in this country has positioned themselves to realize a profit from the deaths of those inhabiting the “undesirable” class, those whose lack of wealth must surely be due to laziness and sloth.  Even the Nazis, to our knowledge, did not realize six and seven-figure tax-free payouts from those who were sent to the gas chambers. Fortunately, Rep. Grayson’s recent apology was not what his detractors had in mind, that of apologizing for the congressional inaction that continues while approximately 122 people per day die in this country due to lack of access to healthcare. In case you haven’t seen it yet:

Unions “Seething” over Obama Selection of Furman as Economics Policy Director

Labor union officials and some liberal activists were seething Tuesday over Barack Obama’s choice of centrist economist Jason Furman as the top economic advisor for the campaign.

The critics say Furman, who was appointed to the post Monday, has overstated the potential benefits of globalization, Social Security private accounts and the low prices offered by Wal-Mart — considered a corporate pariah by the labor movement.

LA Times

We all support Obama against McCain.  And many of us support the labor movement also.  Our support of Obama is not the kind of support that believes he can do no wrong: that’s for those who support Bush.  

Labor leaders are rightly critical of Obama’s choice of Jason Furman as

the economic policy director.  While I continue to support Obama and work for his election, I must speeak out here.  This is the wrong direction.    

More after the fold.

On small, pyhhric victory. But still a thousand battles left to fight.

It seems that Wal-Mart was finally shamed into dropping its suit against the Shanks.  (Thanks to tinyfirefly for pointing this out in last night’s entry.)  But let’s not make any mistake: this wouldn’t have gone as far as it did had the corporate media reported on this months ago, as it should have.  And Wal-Mart is unlikely to reimburse the Shanks for the money they had to shell our for lawyers’ fees and court costs.

To recap: Debbie Shank, a Wal-Mart employee, was involved in a car accident with a trucker, and came out of it a cripple with the memory capacity of a fish.  Her son, Jeremy, was killed in Iraq last year.  But because his mother cannot hold a memory, she forgets soon after hearing the news.  So each time she is reminded of Jeremy’s death, it’s not a reminder at all; she is literally, from her brain-damaged perspective, hearing about her son’s death for the first time, every time, until the day she dies.  Debbie Shank cannot mourn her son, cannot move on from the loss, because of the injuries to her brain.

Wal-Mart, however, was not content to leave well enough alone.  Because of a clause in its insurance contract with employees, the company claims it is legally entitled to settlement money stemming from the Shank family’s lawsuit against the trucking company, whose driver was partly to blame for the accident that crippled Debbie.  So it took the Shanks to court, won, and subsequent appeals have been denied by the Bush-stacked court system.  According to the MSNBC article:

Shank, 52, lost much of her memory and ability to communicate or walk in a crash between her minivan and a tractor trailer in May 2000. Her family sued the trucking company and won $700,000. Court records show that after attorney’s fees and costs, the remaining $417,477 from the settlement went into a trust to care for Shank.

The fund now has about $270,000, the family said.

Shanks’ health insurance was through Wal-Mart, where she worked nights stocking shelves. After the Shanks won their lawsuit, Wal-Mart sued the Shank family to recover medical costs totaling about $470,000.

Wal-Mart won its case and subsequent appeals by the Shanks that went as far as the Supreme Court, which closed legal avenues this month by declining to hear the case.

During the case, the Shanks also lost one of their three sons when Jeremy, 18, was killed in Iraq last year while serving in the Army.

Finally, with little thanks to a lazy mainstream media that didn’t see this as a worthy news story until recently, Wal-Mart caved in and did what it was supposed to do.  But don’t expect this to be over; the Shanks have been screwed out of money that was supposed to go toward Debbie’s long term care.  Now that money has been whittled away, and the family isn’t going to get it back.

What’s more, Wal-Mart is still screwing over its other employees, both current and former.  In one of the latest insults, the company is refusing to rehire a veteran, as per the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act of 1994.  Air Force airman Sean Thornton, who was discharged from the service, was supposed to get his old cashier job back at Wal-Mart, returned from duty to find his former employer has decided it doesn’t have to obey the law.  And why should it?  Federal lawsuit from the Department of Justice or no, the company is fully aware that thanks to Congress and the Bush regime, the courts have been stacked with judges whose sole purpose is to uphold anything and everything corporations deign to get away with.

Here are some sources listing the abuses by Wal-Mart, travesties the government (under conservative misrule, including during the Clinton administration) has allowed to go unpunished.





But hope is not dead.  As the Shank case reveals, the company can be shamed into doing what it is supposed to do, which is to treat its employees fairly.  Public pressure must continue to be mounted, on Wal-Mart and on local, state, and federal legislatures.  After news of the company’s refusal to rehire Airman Thornton was reported, its stocks fell significantly.  So public pressure and media coverage work.  But legislatures (and executives) must be made to act as well.  Anti-trust legislation must be restored, passed, and enforced.  Abuses of employee rights must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and judges who violate the spirit (if not the letter) of the law by upholding abuses removed from the bench.

This can be done, and with your vigilance, it shall be.

This will make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan, yes?

Imagine suffering the attention span and memory capacity of a goldfish.  Imagine that each and every time you hear the news of your son’s death in Iraq, it really is news to you, because you can’t hold onto a memory.  Imagine that your former employers are suing you, because it decided that the settlement your family’s lawyers won from the company that insured the driver of the truck that caused the accident which deprived you of your ability to hold a train of thought more than a minute, really belongs to them, and they are hellbent on getting it no matter how long it takes and no matter how much of what little cash your family has left is eaten up trying to fight this travesty.  Imagine that the Bush-stacked courts have decided that Wal-Mart is always right, and that whatever Wal-Mart wants, it shall get no matter what.

Imagine all this, and then imagine that you are a veteran returning from active service, only to find that your employer won’t give you your job back as prescribed by law.  Yes, Wal-Mart again, its executives laughing their asses off because they know from experience that the DoJ doesn’t do this sort of shit without a plan to make sure that the courts uphold the ability of corporations to shit all over our nation’s veterans — and their mothers.

And the worst part of all this is, this isn’t an April Fool’s day prank.  It’s the sort of bullshit that goes on every single day in this country, and there’s nothing funny about it.

Never Give Up

For the past two years, I’ve boycotted Wal-Mart.  If you’ve paid attention to everything they’ve done, you already know why.  If you haven’t, wake up!

Since I started my boycott, I’ve been trying to convince my mother to join me.  But those low, low prices continued to seduce her, despite my continual explanations about how those obscene prices affected the local economy, which in turn affects us; about how Wal-Mart employees had little-to-no benefits; how Wal-Mart would crush any attempts they made to form a union.  The list goes on and on.

I can understand how important saving money is.  Every penny counts.  But sometimes saving money comes at a greater cost, and this is one of them.  Yet I could not convince my mother that the price she paid was greater than just the money coming out of her bank account.

Yesterday, my mother saw Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person” award go to Wal-Mart for suing a now ex-employee who’d been so severely injured in an accident that she [the employee] can’t remember that her son was killed in Iraq.  She can’t remember that, so she keeps asking about him, and she keeps having to relive learning that her son is dead.  Wal-Mart sued her for $470,000 to recover their costs for providing her medical care because it’s one of the clauses in the employee contract.  She only had $417,000 in a trust fund.  Wal-Mart sued her for everything she had, and they won.

Today, my mother told me she won’t go to Wal-Mart anymore.  She’s going to drop her Sam’s Club membership.  She told me this story is what finally did it for her.

It makes me think: never give up.  You never know what straw will be the last.