The Duality & Unity of being T
When I was in high school, in Hartsville S.C., the city was pretty business progressive for a small southern town. The town was one of the first in the northeastern section of S.C. to do a major downtown revitalization. It was big news, with parades and festivals to mark the completion. Small mom and pop stores were thriving and it was all about shopping locally in town to support the jobs and the businesses in the new revitalized downtown. This being the late eighties, as far as I have known, this was one of the first big drives I've known to promote the shop local theme that we're all pretty familiar with now. Everyone will either say they loved their hometown or hated it. Rarely have I heard anything in between but this move by my hometown is one of the few reasons it still holds a fondness in my heart. We didn't have a Wal-Mart within thirty minutes of town. I had heard of Wal-Mart, saw the commercials and may have been to the one over in Florence thirty miles away, but it was never much as a big deal as going downtown Hartsville after school with my girlfriends. We'd stop by the local drug store and could still order a hot dog all the way, add coleslaw and run into everyone from school and gossip. Small town charm is where I grew up and there was a lot to go around back in the eighties in Hartsville.
I graduated, went to a small Methodist Christian college in upstate South Carolina, but kept in touch with family, friends and the town via the local paper. People were in outrage and fear, as most small towns in America during the early 90's, about this big box retail giant. I'd admit being 19 and being concern with what most 19 years olds are concerned about. I didn't lose much sleep or even thought of the big arguments going on back home. I was actually surprised, a town that had been so progressive in new business would be fighting not to have one of these big box stores. I knew how hard jobs were when I returned home during the summers and could only get a job at a local convince store. I wondered what could be so bad about more jobs coming to town. In time it seemed the pressure was too great for the small town, but they receive major kudos from the residents, I and preservationist around the state, for making the big retail giant adhere to their new building codes and design. Again, this was very new and progressive against Wal-Mart in those days. The end result before I left to live in Atlanta for a few years was that everyone in town loved the new design of Wal-Mart. It blended very well with the red brick look of town and soon everyone moved on. Just the idea of writing this I tried my best to find any links to an old news article in town. The time, being before internet (I know I'm old); there wasn't anything out there against Wal-Mart from my hometown papers archives or by searching. I'm not surprised; I even wonder who remembers that time in our town's history. Going back to Hartsville, as I will in a day or two for Thanksgiving, you'd think everyone in town would be at a loss of what to do with their time if Wal-Mart were to just disappear overnight.
That rebellion I saw constantly in my hometown, with family, friends and my high school's football rivalries, that fought for the smallest detail in things. Standing up to those oppose to your beliefs, ideas and visions of your future, is something that's still with me these days. Maybe during that life changing moment in life is why I remember this going on, and maybe the discussion of Wal-Mart in those days had always loomed in my head and biased my opinions of the big chain, I'm not certain. It maybe that while living after college in midtown Atlanta for several years I didn't see a Wal-Mart, unless I drove out to the suburbs. Maybe it’s the reason why I refer to them as Wally world and had been opposed to shopping there for years. I was more a fan of Targea, until I needed medication. Their big 4 dollar most medication drove me back and I became addicted as ever.
Over the past few years there have been more and more complaints again about Wally world. I've had friends that were forced to quit due to injuries. I watched on the news about lawsuits from female employees that the chain overlooks women for promotions. There's a great documentary I saw,'Walmart: The high cost of low price' and then hearing of people being fired and intimidated because they want to organize due to lack of the basics, health care, few raises and fair scheduling.
I think the worst thing is a company that fights their employees from Organizing like here in this NBC news report. The history of workers organizing, is not a new concept and it has been helpful in so many important labor laws, the Thirteenth Amendment was created so to outlaw slavery and more importantly, involuntary servitude. Obviously no one would volunteer too servitude right? But when over a million workers are told to not organize, therefore, not ask for better wages, fair treatment in the workplace, aren't we giving into servitude to a certain degree? Labor laws were created in the USA to stop things such as child labor in the early 19th century, steel workers that were working for pennies while the CEO executives were making millions. Provide health care for its employees and to end discrimination in the workplace. If we begin as a society to condone what Wal-Mart is doing to its employees aren't we also sending the message to our employers that it's ok to deny us the right of assembly, deny us adequate and affordable health care, safe working conditions etc.? Are we as a society and people with a conscious therefore not better than greedy CEOs or employers the world over? If we do, we should never again complain about our job, our pay, our working environment. I've heard friends complain of the effect Labor Unions have had on families. I'm very aware of the history and corruption of the unions in the sixties with the teamster unions of those days. But have we gone too far in vilifying the unions in 2012? There is a need in all things to have a check and balance, but maybe we've gone to the extreme when we have been told for years and to believe that an organization that was created for the people in the workplace, to protect our right, is evil. To ignore, then, the rights of the worker is that not evil? On Thursday, Nov. 22 2012 we will all be sitting, hopefully, with family or friends here in America giving thanks to God for our livelihoods. Isn't about time to stand for the middle class man, the hard worker and by standing with him give thanks to all of those that put in an eight hour a day job. What better way than thanksgiving to reproach the ideas against the worker. Let's boycott Wally world and support a working man.
Sabrina Samone, T.M.P
Sabrina Samone, T.M.P
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