Walmart Black Friday Strike Being Organized Online For Stores Across U.S


Walmart Black Friday Strike Being Organized Online For Stores Across U.S. (

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving regarded as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, may be dramatically different this year.

Organizers are planning a nationwide strike against Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, and are banking on a new strategy: online organizing.

Labor organizers are working with social action nonprofit Engage Network as well as corporate watchdog nonprofit Corporate Action Network to pull off what they are calling a “viral” — meaning national and spreading online — strike.

Walmart workers interested in joining the day of action are directed to this website, either to find a store near them with an organized strike or to “adopt an event” at a store near them.

Brian Young, cofounder of the Corporate Action Network, said on a conference call coordinated by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Thursday, that organizers cannot cover the roughly 4,000 Walmarts across the country, but enabling self-appointed leaders online has widened and decentralized the campaign.

Supporters can also sponsor a striking worker, who may be losing wages in order to strike, by donating grocery gift cards. The campaign has raised more than $13,500 worth of donations toward grocery gift cards since Oct. 15 — a figure that doesn’t include significant funds raised through mailed-in checks, Jamie Way, of the UFCW, told HuffPost.

The campaign is also mobilizing strikers and supporters through a Facebook app, multiple Facebook pages, a Tumblr and Twitter with the hashtag #walmartstrikers.

“This online mobilization, in addition to traditional on-the-ground organizing, has allowed the campaign to reach into the rural corners of the country that might have otherwise been overlooked,” Marianne Manilov, cofounder of the Engage Network, said on the conference call.

She pointed to a group of renegade workers in Oklahoma who mobilized in October. “A completely unorganized set of workers in Oklahoma spontaneously went out on strike and held their own type of action without any organizer or … connection with the broader organization,” she said. “This is what organizing looks like in the age of Occupy.”

The outreach leading up to Black Friday follows a series of unprecedented actions taken by Walmart workers against their employer and working conditions. In October, for the first time in the company’s 50-year history, more than 70 workers at multiple Los Angeles-area Walmart stores walked off the job, even though their jobs are not protected by an official union. The strike had a ripple effect, causing strikes in 12 other cities, in large part through online organizing.

The success of these strikes, as well as one over the summer touted as the largest ever protest against the company, and a six-day pilgrimmage of warehouse workers in September, would not have been possible without Facebook, Twitter and other web sites, Young said.

“Making Change at Walmart,” which organized the demonstrations and is a campaign affiliated with the UFCW union, has over 25,000 supporters on Facebook.

Although it does not officially represent Walmart workers, OUR Walmart, organized by the Making Change campaign, acts like a union to fight for the rights of Walmart workers. OUR Walmart, which was founded last year with 100 members, now has over 14,000 supporters on Facebook.

Corey Parker, a Walmart worker from Mississippi, said on the conference call that he became active with OUR Walmart after finding out about it through a HuffPost article on Facebook. Now, he has mobilized workers at his store to strike on Black Friday because, he said, he realized that “not being able to make a living was not just an issue at my store.”

Adding fuel to movement, Walmart announced Thursday that it will kick off its Black Friday sale at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, its earliest start ever.

“Lots and lots of Walmart workers are going to be forced to not have Thanksgiving because they’re going to be preparing all day for the busiest shopping day of the year,” Dan Schlademan, director of Making Change at Walmart, said on the conference call. “This essentially cancels Thanksgiving for hundreds of thousands of workers.”

“It’s not like Walmart is financially hurting. It’s not like they’re not making unbelievable sums of money. The price of this is really decimating an important family day in our country.”

But Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo said of the sale, “Last year, our highest customer traffic was during the 10 p.m. hour and, according to the National Retail Federation, Thanksgiving night shopping has surged over the past three years.”

“Most of our stores are open 24 hours and, historically, much of our Black Friday preparations have been done on Thanksgiving, which is not unusual in the retail industry,” he said, adding that the strikes planned for Black Friday, will not “have any impact on our business.”

Regarding the action over the last few months, Restivo said, “While the opinions expressed by this group don’t represent the views of the vast majority of more than 1.3 million Walmart associates in the U.S., when our associates bring forward concerns, we listen.”

In September, dozens of Walmart-contracted warehouse workers in Southern California’s Inland Empire walked off the job and went on a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage to protest working conditions and retaliation for speaking up.

More than a month later, the warehouse company NFI responded to some of the strikers’ working condition requests. “Just in the last week, we’ve seen the warehouse operators scrambling to replace broken and unsafe equipment, they’ve rented fans to increase ventilation, and they’ve added more water coolers,” Elizabeth Brennan, communications director for Warehouse Workers United, said on the conference call.

However, the strikers who returned to work have continued to face retaliation, many times getting their hours cut from 35 down to eight, she said. Some of these warehouse workers will join striking Walmart workers on Black Friday, Brennan said.

Excluding the retaliation, organizers hope to see that type of positive response after Black Friday. And with an online system open to anyone who wants to start a strike in his or her local Walmart, Manilov hopes both the demonstration and response will be broad-reaching.

“This is one of the first labor campaigns to really fully embrace the potential of online-to-offline labor organizing,” she said. “As this captures fire, its potential is limitless.”

Green tribunal reserves order on JSPL’s #Chhattisgarh plant


Nov 10, 2012, DNA

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday reserved its order on the appeal against the environmental clearance given to Naveen Jindal’s steel and power plant in Chhattisgarh.

The appeal filed by NGO Adivasi Kisan Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Sanghatan and Jan Chetna had alleged that there were serious environmental flaws and the public hearing conducted in 2010 was an eyewash and repeated moves by JSPL to increase the land acquired for the each power unit is bad in law.

Senior advocate Raj Panjwani appearing on behalf of the NGO told the bench of justice AS Naidu and expert member Devendra Kumar Agarwal, “All construction work started at this project was much before they got due clearance from the ministry of environment concerned and all promises JSPL made for the future are always taken for granted.”

Citing the example of how the land demand of JSPL increased with every unit, Panjwani told the bench, “First they needed 614 hectares for 1000MW and then 1041 hectares for 2400MW. It seems that there are no norms for acquiring the land for JSPL.”

Taking note of the submissions made by Panjwani, the bench also questioned JSPL as to on what grounds land acquiring system changes from one project to other and remarked “How optimisation is taking place?”

On this senior advocate Pinaki Misra appearing for JSPL said, “We are adhering to all environmental rules and regulations and if still the tribunal thinks that we are flouting any rules, then we at our own cost is ready to get an environment assessment done.”

To a query by the bench on procurement of water for running the plant, Misra said, “We are currently fulfilling our needs from the Mahanadi river and is soon to laid down pipes over there for which we have filed an application in the environment ministry for due clearance.”

“You are already operating 2 units at the plant and still no permission has been taken in advance from the ministry. Are you speculating that you will get permission for what all you have been doing,” the bench remarked asking it to adhere to rules and regulations strictly.

The NGT has also directed all parties to file the written submissions if any by November 20.

 

Narmada Bachao Andolan is not against development


‘We are not against development’

Dev Ram Kanera, a farmer from Khaparkheda village in Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh, has been raising his voice against the injustice wrought by dams in the Narmada Valley. He talks about three decades of struggle.

Dev Ram Kanera
Dev Ram Kanera, 59, Activist, Narmada Bachao AndolanPhoto: Sarang Sena

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

How did it all begin?
It was towards the end of the 1970s. The struggle against dams in the Narmada Valley was still in the initial stages. One day I was returning to my village from the market on a bicycle and stopped at a tea stall. I met a group of four or five persons, including a young woman. She asked me the name of my village. I told her. She said my village came under the submergence zone, that my house, fields and granary will all go under water. She asked me if I knew what I would get in lieu of what I would lose. I had no clue about all this. Then she said that we should ask the government. The woman was Medha Patkar, and that was the day I joined the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

What change have you experienced since joining the movement?
Of course, there was change. Only those who remained committed to the movement could get their voices heard, to some extent at least. The compensation rates were raised. The government agreed not to raise the height of the dam. But those who did not do anything and stayed away from the movement faced the greatest injustice. They got almost nothing for the land and houses that they gave up.

What exactly have you been opposing?
We are not against development. We are only opposing the way in which development is being imposed on people. Our houses and fields are being submerged in the name of generating electricity, but the electricity does not reach us. We don’t want as much electricity as a five-star hotel demands, we ask for only the minimum that we need. But even that eludes us. In short, the very people who sacrifice the most for development are the ones who are ignored the most in the process. This cannot go on.

Vikas Bahuguna is Chief Copy Editor, Tehelka Hindi.
vikas@tehelka.com


 

‘What is seditious about asking the government to use solar energy instead of nuclear power?’


 

G Sundararajan is an environmental activist associated with the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, which protests against the Koondankulam Nuclear Power Plant. A software engineer, Sundararajan has been providing technical and legal assistance to the movement. He talks about why building the nuclear plant there is a bad idea.

G Sundararajan
G Sundararajan, 39, Anti-Nuke Protester

Photo: Sarang Sena

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

How did you become part of the protest movement?
The Koodankulam struggle has been going on for the past 20 years, but it attained mass support only after the Fukushima disaster because the media focussed on the after-effects. I’m a member of Poovulagin Nanbargal (Friends of Flowers), which became part of the movement’s legal and technical committee in 2008. We were able to bring out a comprehensive technical report on why Koodankulam is not a suitable place for a nuclear reactor. The plant is sitting on a faultline, which is becoming active now due to various geothermal activities. There is no such thing as low or high radioactivity. Even if we go by the figures provided by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, 60 lakh litres of low radioactive material of about 35 degrees Celsius will be dumped into the sea, when the ambient temperature of the sea is only around 28-29 degree Celsius. The living organisms in the sea will not survive this after five or six years.

The protesters claim that the state government is intimidating them. How are they doing it?
Ajmal Kasab, who was instrumental in holding Mumbai to ransom, has one case of sedition against him. Udayakumar and Pushpnarayan, the leaders of the anti-nuke movement, have 13 sedition cases. Similar cases have been slapped on 8,600 others. The police is toying with the emotions of the people and trying to instigate them. Luckily, the movement is led by a formidable person such as Udayakumar who is ready to die, but die protesting peacefully.

About 1.6 lakh people have been charged under sections such as disturbing communal harmony, singing obscene songs, attempt to murder, looting and arson. Initially, they arrested 54 women, out of whom four are still behind bars. Four juveniles have been booked for sedition and waging war against the country. Their only crime is that they are the children of people who are sitting in protest against the nuclear plant. They have been sitting there for the past 450 days. What is so seditious about people asking the government to produce electricity using wind and solar energy instead of nuclear power?

There are rumours that your movement gets foreign funding.
Let me tell you about how the money comes for the protest movement. Every day, there are people from one village who sit on fast and it is they who don’t go fishing for that particular day. People from the rest of the 29-30 villages go to work. It’s a cycle. Another village fasts the next day. If a fisherman earns about Rs 10,000, the family sets aside Rs 1,000 for the struggle committee.

What is the one idea that has shaped you and which you think ought to shape the world?
Love for the Earth. Earth is not an asset that we have inherited from our forefathers. It is a liability that we need to repay to our future generations with interest. You and I have been left with a decent amount of environment, and it is the duty of our generation to leave this world as a better place for the future generation.

G Vishnu is a Correspondent with Tehelka.
vishnu@tehelka.com

 

Mumbai film producer arrested for allegedly attacking friend with chemical #VAW #Justice


Edited by Surabhi Malik |, NDTV  Updated: November 10, 2012 14:40 IST

 Mumbai film producer arrested for allegedly attacking ex-lover with chemical

MumbaiA film producer accused of attacking his former lover with a chemical substance was arrested in Mumbai today. Jerrit John was nabbed by the Thane Police from a hotel in Mira Road on the outskirts of Mumbai. He will be handed over to the Mumbai Policenow.The 45-year-old is married and reportedly had an extra marital affairwith the victim, who is a 26-six-year old physiotherapist and international cyclist. She was admitted to a hospital on Wednesday after John allegedly threw an unknown chemical on her face. He had since been on the run.The victim was discharged from the hospital on Thursday.

#India- Acid attack: Netizens want ‘coward’ caught #VAW


TNN | Nov 10, 2012, 12.44AM IST

MUMBAI: The online world has been abuzz with news of the chemical attack on Aryanka Hozbetkar, 26, with netizens asking for help in finding the suspect Jerrit John, 46.

Director-actor Farhan Akhtar tweeted: “Shame on you Jerrit John. Now come out of hiding, you coward.” Akhtar posted a picture of John and wrote: “If you spot this man please dial 100 and refer case to Dadar police station.”

Simran Channey, a marketing manager at a film firm, tweeted, “Man, you can never know when someone will lose it! Jerrit was someone I had worked with, was a loser, but never thought he’d be a woman beater and would throw (a chemical) on a woman. It’s sickening me since morning.”

Human Rights activist Kamayani Bali Mahabal blogged: “Jerrit has been asking friends to say that they did not hear anything or see anything. Jerrit, seriously, you think we will be quiet? You may have deleted your Facebook profile, but you can’t be on the run for long.”

Dipti Shah wrote on the networking page of Mumbai Cycling Enthusiasts: “So, so angry. Cycling is all about fun and not anger nor frustration nor revenge. So all you jerks and frustrated leeks, be it lust, be it power, be it personal vendetta – stay away. There’s no room here for you cowards.”

Shifting sands: A fishing village lost to sea


By Nityanand Jayaraman at  http://tnlabour.in/, a bilingual blog site dedicated to discussing issues related to labour in Tamil Nadu. This site is set up and run by a small group of volunteers.

A photo taken in June 2011. As of 6 November, 2012, the building is in ruins, and the beach has disappeared into sea

P. Jagan is a kattumaram fisherman, a trade that has changed little in centuries. Early most mornings, Jagan launches his boat through the pounding surf and paddles his way to the fishing grounds of his choice. The sea, it appears, has been kind to him.

His house, situated in a row of identical concrete houses closest to the sea, is well-lit and spacious. A washing machine, refrigerator, wide-screen TV and other assets suggest that Jagan has not done too badly for himself with just the kattumaram. As boats go, the kattumaram — with its five logs hewn from the wood of the Albizzia tree, and lashed together — is an efficient and light surf-riding, beach landing vessel. Jagan has been facing one problem, though. The beach outside his home is shrinking.

“The sea has come in,” he says. Looking east from his house, the proof of his claim is visible. A 2-metre high wall of granite boulders lines the village. Unlike many of the other fishing villages on the East Coast Road, Jagan’s village — Sulerikattukuppam or Kattukuppam for short — has no beach. On the Northern edge of the village, near the temple where the line of rocks end, there is a small beach. But this too is rapidly shrinking, as the boulders divert the waves northwards. With every pounding wave and its backwash, a valuable piece of Kattukuppam is lost to the sea.

“We had 47 fibre boats, and 17 kattumarams in our village before the Thane cyclone (2011),” Jagan says. “The cyclone damaged the boats, and many didn’t feel it was worth replacing the boats. Now, there are only 24 boats and 14 kattumarams. There is no place to park our boats. The ocean trade (kadal thozhil) is finished. That’s all sir,” he says.

The cause of Kattukuppam’s misery is a 100 million litres per day desalination plant being constructed at the southern edge of the village by VA Tech Wabag for the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board.

Beaches are dynamic formations, waxing and waning with changing seasons. India’s east coast is influenced by two monsoons – the Northeast and the Southwest. For nine months, including during the southwest monsoon, ocean currents move sand northwards feeding the beaches along the way. Briefly, for three months during the Northeast, the silt is transported from south to North. It is a known fact that any hard engineering structure constructed on India’s eastern coastline will cause erosion of the beaches north of the structure.

Such erosion, they said, would not only expose them to the fury of storms but also cost them precious beach space. Besides being the space for storing craft and mending gear, beaches are also used for fishing. Kattukuppam has eight shoreseine nets. These nets are dragged into sea by a boat, with one end held on to by 10 to 15 fishermen standing on the beach. The boat then makes a loop and returns to the beach encircling the target shoal of fish. The other end of the net is handed over to a second team of 10 to 15 able-bodied men, who then drag back the heavy net, hopefully made heavier by a healthy catch of anchovies or shrimp. Shoreseines are communal nets that are deployed when the sea is flat as glass, usually in the late and post-monsoon months of December, January and February. But these nets require vast amounts of beach space, wide enough to accommodate 15 men standing 2-3 metre apart and long enough to allow for the net to encircle a 100 metre-wide shoal of fish in the nearshore waters. On a lucky day, a shoreseine can haul in several lakhs worth of fish.

Jagan is rueful. “This year, it looks like the shoreseine will not touch water even once. We even lost one net last month. We had kept it on the beach. The sea took it,” he said simply. “We have moved the remaining into the casuarina grove. They are very expensive. Each net costs more than Rs. 2 lakhs.”

Even when it was coming up, fisherfolk protested. They complained that the highly saline rejects from the desalination plant will poison the sea near their village, and harm fishing livelihoods. More importantly, they worried that the structures built in sea for sucking in seawater or discharging wastewater will trigger sea erosion.

In typical fashion, the wisdom behind the fisherfolk’s protests was brushed aside. Protestors were brutalised by the police; a few contracts were given to a handful of big people in the village. The collector assured the villagers of jobs in the water factory.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board issued a Consent to Establish in August 2009. Experts nominated by the Ministry of Environment and Forests claimed to have studied engineering and environmental impact assessment reports and granted CRZ clearance to the project. Scientists averred that there would be no detrimental or unmanageable environmental consequences. The drone of the institutionalised expert drowned the rustic wisdom of the subaltern.

“What can a small fishing village do against these giants?” asks Jagan, looking towards Metro Water’s massive water tanks that can be seen towering over the village.

Construction at the plant began in 2010 with a row of pilings driven into sea. In June 2011, when the author visited the village, erosion was already at an advanced stage. Sandbags had been thrown at the waterline – a puny attempt to thwart the sea. The fall from the beach to the water was already very steep. The foundations of a community hall, used by the fisherfolk to mend nets, stood exposed and eroded. Storm surges had already taken a toll on the building, and cracks were evident.

These buildings were built by the Rotary Clubs of Chennai and Mumbai after the tsunami. They wanted to develop Sulerikattukuppam as a model fishing village. “At that time, the sea was far away,” said Jagan. “All that was beach,” he said with a sweep of his hands covering a 20 to 50 metre expanse of water.

Between June 2011 and now, two cyclones – Thane and Nilam – have battered the coast. “Had the sea been where it had, with the beach separating us, we would have been fine.” A row of community structures – the net mending hall, a community gathering hall, a wall-less hall with a roof supported on pillars – that once defined the eastern edge of the village now lie in ruins.

Advancing steadily northwards, the erosion is now eating into the beaches of Nemmelikuppam, nearly 1.5 km away. According to Jagan, those villagers too have now sent a letter of complaint to the authorities. A mapping study done using a handheld GPS meter and Google Earth images suggests that anywhere between 2.5 acres to 12 acres of beach may have already been lost to erosion.

“The Collector tells us that the pilings will be removed by February, after which there will be no problem. But we know that is not true. They have dumped huge concrete boulders – each weighing hundreds of tons – to anchor down the pipes for taking in seawater and letting out effluents. These boulders form a submarine wall that will prevent the sand from moving north,” he says. “Will they remove this too?”

Jagan’s wife brings out a bottle of “ice-water” for us. That water is from a hand-pump near his house. Almost anticipating my next question, she tells me with a laugh that even this water will turn salty now that the sea has moved closer to the village. It is ironic that a desalination plant set up to turn salt water into fresh water ends up turning fresh water saline.

From nuclear plants to desalination plants, the standard response to protests is police action and the banal promise of employment. About 160 people work as daily labour on and off in the water factory. “Their job is to wash pebbles,” says 30-year old housewife S. Kavitha. Men get about Rs. 300 a day, and women about Rs. 200. “My husband goes there for some extra income if he has free time. But washing pebbles isn’t exactly a livelihood,” Kavitha says with a smile.

The Government seems none too bothered by the plight of the 217 families in this village. Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa plans to inaugurate the desalination plant early next year. Another plant, four times this size, is proposed at an as-yet undisclosed location in Kanchipuram district.

 

Demand Release of PMANE Women activists from Trichy Jail #mustshare


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ACTION ALERT TO DEMAND RELEASE OF XAVIER AMMAL, SELVI AND SUNDARI OF  PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY
On 18 October, 2012, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court heard  the bail appeals of 50 villagers from villages around Koodankulam. The  court released 47 villagers, but denied bail to three women — Xavier  Ammal, Selvi and Sundari. The women have already spent nearly two  months in jail, and given the High Court’s rejection, they are  unlikely to return to their families anytime soon. . .unless, we can  prevail on the Government to release them.
All 50 villagers had been arrested on the days following the September  10, 2012, police crackdown. Many of those arrested were not even part  of the protests. Those who were part of the protests were unarmed and  engaged in legitimate, non-violent demonstrations. Charges against  them vary from illegal assembly to shouting obscene slogans, sedition  and waging war against the state.

Send in your endorsement of the below letter to:
lalitagpi@gmail.com or geethv@gmail.com

***************************************************************************

To: Kum Jayalalitha,

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009

To: Ms Mamta Sharma

National Commission on Women
No. 4, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg
New Delhi-110 002.

Date: Nov 8 2012

Dear Sisters:
We are writing to urge you to facilitate the speedy release of three courageous women — Xavier Ammal, Selvi and Sundari — of Idinthakarai who are currently in the Trichy Women’s Prison. Their alleged crime was an act that most women would commit intuitively, namely acting to  protect their families, their communities and their future generations. Xavier Amma, Selvi and Sundari are strong, though gentle, women who have worked hard to keep their families together by rolling beedis, and selling fish. When the occasion demanded, as it did with the impending  commissioning of the Koodankulam reactors in the face of unanswered questions about its safety post-Fukushima, the women from villages around Koodankulam were galvanised into action. Among those thousands of women, these three have clearly stood out as leaders.

Following the September 10 police crackdown on the dharna by villagers opposed to nuclear energy, the police have arrested many villagers, including those who were in no way part of the protests. Across the board, the FIRs record that the villagers were armed with deadly weapons like “aruval (machetes), knives, sticks and crowbars.” Television footage of the September protests and police action bear testimony to the fact that the protestors were unarmed. Xavier Amma injured her hand after she ran and fell into the sea to escape the baton-wielding police. Both Selvi and Sundari have children that need taking care of. Selvi’s son is epileptic. It is indeed absurd that such women have been arbitrarily accused of sedition and waging war against the state. While releasing tens of others on bail at the same hearing of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, it is unclear as to why only these three have been denied bail.

We, the under-signed, are women from different walks of life who are very concerned at the increasing hostility of the various agencies of the State to democratic dissent, and the particular viciousness with which non-violent protests are being addressed. We are writing to urge  you to kindly act to restore justice by releasing these three women so that they can join their families, and by facilitating the return of a sense of normalcy in the villages around Koodankulam.

Sincerely

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