From Labor Day to Shopping Day

Remember Labor Day?

Violence against labor

Violence against labor – 1938 strike

There was a time when the nation closed down on Labor Day as a tribute to America’s working people.

Then something happened. The Labor Movement which brought about the end of child labor, the 40 hour work week, and won workplace safety laws, lost its steam. “Unions” became a four-letter word. Free market economists convinced the country that unions were responsible for America’s economic problems. The auto industry vacated Detroit for “Right to work” states or Mexico or outsourced parts production, as did other industries, to places where management would have free reign setting wages, benefits, pensions, and work conditions for employees.

This morning I asked a store clerk whether she’ll be working on Monday. “No,” she said, “We’re closed.” “Good,” I said, “you should be. Good for [name of the company]. Everyone should be off unless they’re working somewhere where  an essential public interest at stake.”

Then I came home and searched “Labor Day”.  9 Best Sales of Labor Day 2015 – US News popped up. It’s a shopper’s holiday in the free-market consumer society. Tenty-three percent of American workers work in retail. Amnesia reigns. But, in case you’re wondering, Costco will honor its workers Monday. Walmart invites you to “celebrate hard work with huge savings”.

Click HERE for the heart of Labor Day and why Labor Day is important in the year 2015 when America’s 1%, the class of J.P. Morgan, have succeeded in turning Labor Day into a shopping event when the laborers have to work.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, September 5, 2015

WalMart Chicken Wing

Un-plucked Walmart chicken wing

Un-plucked Walmart chicken wing

There’s nothing quite so special as a WalMart (un)plucked roasted Chicken wing! Mmmm.  Good!

“So what were you doing @WalMart?” you might ask.

We don’t shop at WalMart. But when a neighbor gives you a bunch of unused gift cards with $20 on them…and you want plants for the front entrance…you have an excuse to shop at the place we love to hate. The plants were plucked; the chicken was NOT! If you like to pluck your own chicken, WalMart’s the place to shop.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 14, 2015.


Incredibly American: the ARU

“It’s incredibly un-American. My DNA is offended by it.”

“It” is the National Basketball Association’s salary cap policy. The speaker is Michele Roberts, the new executive of the NBA Players’ Association (NBAPA), speaking in an interview with ESPN. Click HERE to hear the voice and read more. It’s hardly the DNA of America’s union movement.

pullman newsThe NBAPA is the spoiled great-grandchild of America’s early union movement and costly strikes like the American Railway Union’s sympathy strike in the Pullman strike in 1894.

Professional sports in America is just like America. Sort of. A little bit. Kind of.

There’s management and there’s labor. The NBA team owners (management) and the NBA players (labor) are sparring in preparation for their next big event: re-negotiation of the NBA collective bargaining agreement in 2017.

So, In that regard, the NBA is sort of like the rest of America, except for the likes of Walmart where there is no players’ union, just a company without “incredibly un-American” things like salary caps because they pay their employees peanuts.

But NBA players aren’t making peanuts. They’re making millions. A lot of millions!

It’s hard to feel sorry for a player hauling in an $80,000,000 contract, even if his name is LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. It’s also hard to feel respect for a union that represents only the elitest of the elites while other team employees are picking up the peanut shells after the games and working at Walmart.

My DNA is offended by that. It’s offended by the 1%. It’s offended by the owners. It’s offended by the players’ union. It’s offended by the greed and the self-absorption that sees the fair distribution of extravagant wealth among a small fraction of America’s 1% as a justice issue.

Justice is salary caps and earning caps at the top and an earnings floor at the bottom for the folks who pick up the peanut shells after the NBA games and have no bargaining rights at Walmart.

“It’s incredibly un-American. My DNA is offended by it.”

“There is certainly…something wrong in that form of unionism whose leaders are the lieutenants of capitalism.”—Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) who, while serving a 10-year sentence in a federal penitentiary following the Pullman Strike, received more than a million votes as Socialist candidate for President.


Verse – Lights of the World

Compact, inflatable
Has a built-in handle

LuminAID light will float
Is semi-transparent
A very light night light

Amazon will mail it
Under twenty dollars

Headband LED
Always be hands-free

Gun or bow and arrow
Take a deer or sparrow

Do not want to be dead
Keep the family fed

Walmart Streamlight Pro Tec
Fifty bucks fifty bucks

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, October 13, 2014

Shopping in America

Shopping is getting dangerous in America. Okay. So. “How do you know?” you might well ask.

Mark Andrew before beating at the Mall

Mark Andrew before beating at the Mall

1) Mark Andrew, a much-beloved prominent figure in the Democratic Farm Labor Party and runner-up in the weighted election for Mayor of Minneapolis, was beaten at the Mall of America after chasing down the young man who had just stolen his iPhone. – Minneapolis Star Tribune, Dec. 28, 2013. Click HERE for the story.
Mark Andrew after shopping at the Mall of America

Mark Andrew after shopping at the Mall of America

2) An old college classmate wrote today on a popular social media venue that ends in ‘k’ that she stopped in at the local Walmart because she knew they would have the plastic product she wanted. A fight broke out in the Walmart among four people – two guys and two women – yelling and going after each other while store’s employees tried to break it up. She was afraid someone was going to pull out a gun when someone yelled “Police!” and the culprits ran for the exits. – Dec. 28, 2013.

Responding to my friend’s Walmart shopping experience on a popular social media site, her friends all but mugged her in cyberspace for shopping at WalMart, which, by the way, is pretty much against my friend’s own principles.


1) It’s gettin’ ugly out there at WalMart and the Mall of America. We want stuff. We want it fast and cheap, even at others’ expense. As if that weren’t enough, sometimes the fights break out on our own computer screens about who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.

2) Shopping is bad for our health. Next time I shop some place that violates my conscience or someone else’s and a fight breaks out, I’m not posting it on the social media site that ends in ‘k’. Besides, I’m a coward; the next time someone steals my out-of-date cell phone, they can have it. I’m leaving the Mall and WalMart for the locally-owned shops, if only I can find one.