This past Saturday, I joined thousands of other folks here in Los Angeles for a march through historic Chinatown. The reason for the event? – the impending arrival of Wal Mart in Chinatown. It seems that the urban areas are a significant part of the Walton family’s final frontier.
Although the LA County Fed officially dubbed the event a “March Against Low Wage Jobs,” there were really two big beefs going around. One was indeed the matter of low wage jobs and the heinous record of Wal Mart towards its’ workers and towards organized labor. United for Respect at Wal Mart, an organization formed by associates at Wal Mart, were in the house. They were really great – brave and inspiring. Can you imagine working at this giant company and having the courage to stand up and fight for better wages and conditions?
Click on Wal Mart march for Part One of the coverage I did for City Watch to see Girshriela Green, one of the leaders of this group, calling Wal Mart out!
Another issue that was raised, by some almost exclusively, was how small business in Chinatown would be adversely affected. This is all pretty interesting since, I’m pretty sure that small business has been ferociously anti-union for decades if not ever since unions existed.
Sure, you have some folks saying, “Oh, yes; Mom and Pop have been good to me for twenty-five years. I’ve been treated well” That may be true, but that is almost totally up to their discretion, isn’t it? Mom and Pop could be the Cratchets and that would be just too bad for anybody who happens to work for them, right? Without unions, a poor worker soul really has no recourse apart from a few bare bones labor laws regulated by the National Labor Relations Board, which has practically had all its’ teeth pulled over the years. So, it just seems an unlikely pair – organized labor and small business.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not sticking up for Wal Mart or thumbing my nose at small business. I come from a long line of small business owners myself. I love the diversity of Los Angeles. It’s my favorite thing about this city. I would hate to see Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, East Los Angeles, or any of LA’s culturally rich neighborhoods disappear.
Wal Mart is not the problem – it’s a symptom of the problem. If it wasn’t Wal Mart, it would be another big corporation. That’s the way this system works.
The market is not sentimental or nostalgic – and that’s not just in Chinatown, Jake.