Boulder, CO. A Year Later, Residents Still Protest Outside Wal-Mart Store
In most communities, once a Wal-Mart manages to get in, the opponents go back to the rest of their lives. But not in Boulder, Colorado. Last October, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market slipped quietly into the city, almost unnoticed by most residents. But neighbors have been protesting ever since.
On the second Saturday of every month in Boulder, Colorado, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, the Coalition for Social and Environmental Responsibility in Boulder (CSERB) gather at the Diagonal Plaza mall to protest the continuing operation of Wal-Mart's Neighborhood Market and support Wal-Mart workers in their struggles for better wages and working conditions, more hours, and more regular and transparent scheduling. These protests began with 30 people, but some months the crowd has more than doubled that number.
This week, CSERB shared with Sprawl-Busters a draft of its "dirty-laundry list" that will be used at its the monthly protest on September 13th at the Neighborhood Market and its "Still UnWelcome" action at the same location in early October.
Here is their draft statement:
"Wal-Mart's massive loads of dirty laundry require a massive popular movement to wash them clean. More than a few think the stains are just too dark and resistant to cleaning to ever get out:
1. Underpaying workers, who can't live on their wages.
2. Under-scheduling workers, who can't get enough hours to live on.
3. Irregular scheduling prevents workers from getting needed second jobs.
4. Under-scheduling workers allows the company to avoid requirements to give benefits to full-time staff.
5. The company depends on federal assistance to its workers to make up for their low wages. Taxpayers are paying the workers.
6. Company cutbacks on staff result in poorer service to customers and higher workload on remaining workers.
7. High, dangerous workload pressure on staff -- accidents, chronic injuries, stress / mental health problems.
8. The company hides from and lies to its staff.
9. The company hides from and lies to its shareholders, e.g. re: problems within the company and with the rest of the world.
10. The company hides from and lies to the general public.
11. The company hides from and lies to its shoppers -- prices are frequently NOT the lowest available.
12. Non-transparent staff scheduling processes.
13. Kills local jobs, businesses and community culture via predatory pricing.
14. Hides from and lies to government officials.
15. Intimidates, punishes, and retaliates against workers who exert their legal rights of grievance and protest.
16. Discrimination against women.
17. Discrimination against people of color.
18. Pollutes the environment, through poor storage of pollutants, illegal dumping, and poorly regulated manufacturing.
19. Wealth inquality -- top six shareholders, the Walton heirs, together possess more wealth than the bottom 1/3 of all Americans.
20. Wage theft from workers through off-the-clock compulsory work, falsification of work records to eliminate overtime, and not paying for all hours worked.
21. Sweat-shop production of imported goods, including too many hours, poor pay, poor working conditions and safety.
22. Bribery of government officials to gain entry to new markets, e.g. Mexico.
23. Understaffing results in less inventory stocked and available to shoppers.
24. Systematic mistreatment of independent-contractor truckers, who feel forced to drive more hours per day that is safe and legal, without the required breaks.
25. Forcing older, full-time employees to work "flexible" shifts to get them to quit.
26. Managers are forced to carry out policies and practices they know are immoral and illegal.
27. After the Neighborhood Market had been announced, lied to Boulder citizens about not having been asked whether they were planning a store for the city.
28. Refuse to openly debate critics, including Boulder activists.
29. Haven't maintained the number of new jobs they boasted about creating when they opened the Neighborhood Market in Boulder.
30. Wal-Mart sells shrimp harvested by Thai ships using slave labor."
The group says the Wal-Mart store manager comes out of the building every time the protesters arrive, moving shopping carts around as a pretense for keeping her eye on the crowd. The Saturday CSERB gatherings have kept the Neighborhood Market in the news long after its ribbon-cutting----a reminder for Boulder residents and Wal-Mart that "if they build it, we won't come."
The Coalition for Social and Environmental Responsibility in Boulder (CSERB), the main organization opposing Wal-Mart's dangerous entry into Boulder, meets every week at Unity Church in Boulder. Volunteers and resources of all sorts are always needed. To learn more about CSERB, e-mail Matt Nicodemus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What you can do: The Coalition for Social and Environmental Responsibility in Boulder (CSERB), the main organization opposing Wal-Mart's dangerous entry into Boulder, meets every Wednesday* evening, 7-8:30 pm, at Unity Church in Boulder. Volunteers and resources of all sorts are always needed, including financial contributions to help the group's efforts. To learn more about CSERB, e-mail Matt Nicodemus at email@example.com.