Whipping Wal-Mart Into Shape
June 07, 2011
When I first started looking into Wal-Mart as a reporter several years ago, what bothered me the most was the cynicism of the company. Gosh, we didn’t know that our outsourced maintenance people were illegal immigrants. Gosh, we didn’t know that store managers were subtly demanding unpaid overtime. Gosh, we didn’t know that we had a really bad supplier in China that abused its workers. Wal-Mart was always shocked, shocked, shocked.
[Guest post by Chloe Schama:] Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a class-action case that NPR called “the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history.” The description is actually a bit misleading: From a legal standpoint, the issue in Dukes v. Wal-Mart is standing: whether or not hundreds of thousands of women—upon whose behalf former Wal-Mart employee Betty Dukes had filed the case—could band together and sue for damages. Or, as Richard Thompson Ford put it in Slate, “[W]hat’s at stake in Dukes v.
In Cancún, Corporations Are Taking Over The U.N. Climate Talks
December 10, 2010
Cancún, Mexico—Another year, another round of U.N. climate talks. This year's discussions in Cancún are likely to end much as last year's haggling in Copenhagen did—without a firm global treaty to stop drastic climate change. But the stalemate has led to an intriguing side development: Large, multinational corporations are starting to play an outsized role in the negotiations. If world leaders can't agree on how best to cut carbon emissions (and, so far, it's not clear they can), then the world's CEOs may start taking the lead.
Return Of The K Street Project
November 02, 2010
The last time Republicans took control of Congress, they established the K Street Project, which was devoted to pressuring business lobbies to support the Republican agenda down the line, in return for which they could expect tax and regulatory breaks galore. The whole racket culminated in the Jack Abramoff scandal, after which Republicans claimed they learned their lesson and would henceforth be clean and good. I've been wondering how long Republicans would wait after winning power to revert to their old ways.
The Wal-Mart Workplace Experience
October 22, 2010
Rich Lowry, responding to an anti-Walmart documentary in 2005: What the company’s executives are now encountering is the high cost of progress. The political reaction against Wal-Mart is the latest iteration of the fear and loathing that greets any major innovation in American retailing. This past week, Gawker has been collecting stories about life at the retail giant. Here's a sample: "We had a very nice elderly woman working in the crafts department and had been with the company and in that one store for more than 25 years.
In TNR, the Working Class Has Disappeared
September 06, 2010
Once upon a time, The New Republic ran detailed, empathetic articles about the lives, ideas, and activism of American workers. “They seem easygoing, good-humored and straightforward Southerners,” wrote Edmund Wilson in a 1931 essay about the coal-miners of West Virginia, “so much in the old tradition of American backwoods independence that it is almost impossible to realize they have actually been reduced to the condition of serfs.” In 1966, Maury Maverick Jr. joined a mass march by Texas farmworkers that ended on Labor Day, on the steps of the state capitol building.
Is the CBC Uniquely Unethical?
August 03, 2010
Not so long ago, all eight of the members of Congress being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics were black. Now, two powerful black members of the Congressional Black Caucus are on the griddle. There are two entirely appropriate responses. One of them is to wonder if there is something racial going on. Yes, that is reasonable. Dismissals of this line of reasoning as mere “crying racism” are, in this case, hasty. Bloggers blithely listing white people who have fallen into the OCE’s line of sight as disproof of the racism charge are missing the point.
The READ: In Defense of Amazon
July 28, 2010
I wrote that headline initially as a joke. In the decade and a half since it first started delivering to our doorsteps everything from bestsellers to diapers, Amazon.com has become so entrenched as an icon of evil business policies that any person who loves books can no longer look upon it with an unskeptical eye.
The Economic Roots Of Reaction
May 13, 2010
The current reactionary mood among large segments of the public is a response not only to the general fact of a recession, but the specific way in which its effected certain groups. One of the factors that has caused unemployment to remain so high is that employers have used the recession to restructure their work force, eliminating jobs made obsolete by technology or other changes. This, Catherine Rampell explains, has disproportionately hurt older workers: But there is reason to think restructuring may take a bigger toll this time around.
Education's Tea Partier
March 15, 2010
Almost 20 years ago, as a young editor at The Public Interest, I wrote an admiring review of The American Reader, an anthology compiled by Diane Ravitch. At the time, a battle was raging over multicultural education, and Ravitch joined the fray with a wonderful collection of speeches, songs, essays, and poems spanning the nation’s history.