FAIR TRADE, NOT FREE TRADE RALLY
CLOQUET AND DULUTH
OCTOBER 5, 2002
(Click on photos to enlarge)
|It was fun. I liked it when the banner went up on the bridge. ~ Katie Weikum - age 8 - Honorary Local 34 member|
Saturday was a great experience
to learn more about the rights of workers from all over. The
events at the Cloquet Wal*Mart and in Duluth were well
planned and attended. It made me more aware of the way
workers are treated without Unions. The time on the bus gave
me a chance to get acquainted with other Union members,
especially with Katie there to ask questions. This event was
a good way to support workers rights. When we got to
Cloquet, we chanted WE ARE UNION... and we do stand together
was a cool crisp fall day when I started my journey to the
Fair Trade - Not Free Trade Regional Rally. I began
the day by meeting others who were participating in the
caravan to Cloquet and Duluth, Minnesota. As I pulled
up to the meeting place, I was struck by the turn out of the
number of people who sacrifice their Saturday to participate
in this effort. When I step out of my car I could feel
the excitement building as I walked through the crowd.
When I arrived at the Local 34 bus I was greeted by my
sisters and brothers who were participating in this
movement. Andrea Lazo-Rice, Professional
Member-at-Large, was kind enough to ensure that our bus was
packed with food so we would not starve during our
journey. Nancy Fleming-Norton, Secretary, further
motivated us by engaging us in chanting songs regarding
protesting like, "We are the union, the mighty mighty
union, everywhere we go, people want to know, who we are, so
we tell them, we are the union".
5th Fair Trade, Not Free Trade Rally in Duluth and Cloquet:
Thank you for supporting this wonderful event. The bus
ride with our Local's contingent was so much fun.
We invited four AFSCME members from Council 6 to join us.
They had not been able to get enough folks together to rent
a bus and we had the room so it made
sense. Pictures of the event should be on our
website shortly. I am not going to write anything more about
this as I would like you to read the following speech
given by Ivy Klassen-Glanzer, a senior at Southwest High
School in Minneapolis. She spoke at the protest
outside of Wal-Mart in Cloquet and I think that her words
are more eloquent than any I could write. Her speech
is printed with her permission.
It has been named the world's largest retailer. You
can thank them for some of the worst sweatshop abuses in the
global race to the bottom in denying worker's rights.
Sweatshops are factories where workers can be subjected to
an endless list of abuses, including being paid wages of
poverty, being forced to work excessively long hours without
overtime pay, receiving physical and mental abuse, and being
subjected to unhealthy working conditions.
use the factories as scapegoats, saying that the situation
is” out of their control", or that "they don't
own the factories, so they can't force compliance", or
simply that it would raise consumer prices to improve
working conditions abroad. Meanwhile, executives at
companies like Wal-Mart are becoming the richest and most
powerful in the world. Recently in China, factories
producing for Wal-Mart have been found to be paying their
workers not even half of China's 31-cent minimum wage.
Workers are paid a mere 13 cents an hour, with some
employees forced to work 13-20 hour shifts. This is
the real cost of Wal-Mart's "low, low prices."
is consistently accused with the worst worker rights
violations. Wal-Mart has been named on the long list
of companies that have sweatshops in Saipan, a U.S.
territory. Migrant workers from South East Asia are
lured to Saipan by the expectation of good
"American" working conditions, only to be
confronted with 12-14 hour shifts, $3.00 per hour pay,
horrible working conditions and deportation for becoming
pregnant or organizing any type of union activities.
Recently, workers in Saipan have won a settlement from
corporations that have been abusing them for years, Wal-Mart
among them. It has been proven time after time that Wal-Mart
is one of the worst labor abusers in the world, that they
just won't treat the workers with the respect or the
dignity due to every human being. This abuse has to
stop! Wal-Mart must change! What we ask of Wal-Mart
are simple, fundamental things that will ensure that
workers' rights are being respected.
DEMAND - full disclosure of the names and locations of their
factories: Because we deserve to know where, for how
much, and under what conditions the products we buy are
DEMAND - Independent monitoring: Because only then can we
trust the investigations.
DEMAND - Respect for workers' right to organize: Because too
many workers' needs go unfulfilled, and too many union
organizers have lost their jobs.
DEMAND - Living wage: So that workers' children can go to
school instead of work, so that families can meet as least
their basic needs and have enough to eat every single day.
the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart has the
responsibility to set an example for other companies, but
until they implement fair and ethical labor practices both
at home and abroad, we will be here, day after day,
demanding change. We will not join Wal-Mart in the
race to the bottom!
It was particularly inspiring to see the thousands of union and environmental groups who traveled to Cloquet and Duluth on a Saturday to make the case for “Fair Trade Not Free Trade. Workers and family members from the Midwest region and Canada collectively sharing a message and taking a stand against the poor working conditions and benefits of WalMart employees was invigorating. It reminded me somewhat of my college days when we took to the streets in an effort to achieve human dignity and justice for a variety of causes. Did you know that working at WalMart doesn’t pay? “Associates”, as WalMart calls them, work an average of 28 hours a week and only earn $7.50 per hour, or $10,920 a year – nearly $3,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. WalMart sells health insurance to its “associates“, but because the plan is so expensive, less than 40% of the company’s workers participate. This plan is especially hurtful to women who make up approximately 70% of WalMart’s workforce. I would encourage all of you to take the time to educate yourselves regarding this issue and do what you can to change things for the future. John Herzog – Local 34 member