Low wage employers don’t have enough money to pay their employees more but they have plenty of money to launch smear campaigns and hire “crisis management” consultants:
Worker Center Watch has no information its website about its sponsors. Yet the group attacks labor activists and community labor groups for lacking transparency. “Hiding behind these non-profits, unions mask their true motivations, circumvent operational requirements and skirt reporting and disclosure obligations,” says Worker Center Watch, referring to labor-supported worker centers like OUR Walmart.
TheNation.com has discovered that Worker Center Watch was registered by the former head lobbyist for Walmart. Parquet Public Affairs, a Florida-based government relations and crisis management firm for retailers and fast food companies, registered the Worker Center Watch website.
The firm is led by Joseph Kefauver, formerly the president of public affairs for Walmart and government relations director for Darden Restaurants. Throughout the year, Parquet executives have toured the country, giving lectures to business groups on how to combat the rise of what has been called “alt-labor.” At a presentation in October for the National Retail Federation, a trade group for companies like Nordstrom and Nike, Kefauver’s presentation listed protections against wage theft, a good minimum wage and mandated paid time off as the type of legislative demands influenced by the worker center protesters The presentation offered questions for the group, including: “How Aggressive Can We Be?” and “How do We Challenge the Social Justice Narrative?”
The alarm at how quickly the new organizing model has taken off has sparked anxiety among business executives. Littler Mendelson, a law firm that helps companies defeat labor unions, released a report outlining the challenge for corporate executives.
In a webinar hosted this month for business executives seeking a “union-free workplace,” Nancy Jowske explained that the alt-labor model could heavily influence millennials and their perceptions of labor unions. “One of the things to consider about what’s going there with SEIU’s Fight for 15 and all of this is the millennial generation,” said Jowske, a former SEIU organizer turned union-buster, “they are getting a steady diet of pro-union from every possible direction.” She added, “this is also a generation that is very class-conscious” and explained that the current alt-labor protests could incite future organizing drives.
I am always surprised at the ferocious response to ANY show of worker solidarity or pushback. These huge companies are really terrified of non-union workers who have absolutely no leverage or clout finally getting a little media attention? Thirty years of completely dominating the dialogue on wages and work has made them believe that they are entitled to complete deference, I guess. They must act aggressively and shut it down before “the millennial generation” hear anything positive about unions, because God forbid we should have an actual debate.
The Garment Worker Center (GWC) is a worker rights organization whose mission is to organize low-wage garment workers in Los Angeles in the fight for social and economic justice.
GWC addresses the systemic problems of wage theft, unhealthy and unsafe working conditions, and the abusive and inhumane treatment faced by workers on-the-job.
Also, can we get more of this? The low wage workers shouldn’t be out there all alone.
On Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days on the year, a group of seven Democratic lawmakers came out in support of Wal-Mart employees who are protesting the company to improve labor standards.
“Across the country, there are countless Wal-Mart workers who are paid poverty wages, cannot get enough hours, and have erratic work schedules that make it difficult to survive,” said the statement, issued by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).