May Day – The Real Labor Day

Doug McMillon
President and Chief Executive Officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611
Michael Dean Andres
President, McDonald’s USA, LLC
One McDonald’s Plaza
Oak Brook, Illinois 60523

Gentlemen,

First of all, I’d like to wish the two of you; Happy International Workers Day, or May Day. The real labor holiday, not to be confused with the officially sanctioned Labor day conceived by the oppressors of workers ( You know who you are! ) celebrated in September.

In the Fall of 2013, I wrote to your predecessors; pleading with them to raise the minimum wage paid to the employees of your respective companies.

Previous Letter to Jeff Stratton – October 11, 2013
Previous Letter to William S. Simon – November 18, 2013

In this letter, I was going to congratulate both Jeff Stratton, and William S. Simon on the recent announcements of slight pay increases to their workers. It is not much, but better than nothing. ( Especially, after that diatribe that Jeff Stratton delivered to the McDonald’s employee Nancy Salgado when she confronted him about her poor pay and got arrested for her trouble. )

I hope that the two of you are not superstitious. I wrote to exactly two corporate presidents in the last year and a half, and both of those presidents were replaced. I hope that you will both be able to stick around long enough to see your respective wage increases completely implemented. Goodness knows the American worker has been suffering from the collective abuse of American management like yourselves for over 50 years. For my entire working life – I graduated from High School in 1981 – wages overall for most Americans, other than high flyers such as yourselves, have failed to keep up with even base inflation, while the productivity of the American worker and your profits have soared.

I urge you both to share the tremendous wealth that the corporations you manage generate, with your own workers; the people who actually create that wealth. Day in and day out, your employees toil to earn you the millions of dollars of compensation you will eventually earn when your stock options mature. ( Doug McMillon should change his name to McMillions – as he will eventually earn $25 million just for 2014! ) Both of you and I know that Doug McMillon does not contribute 961 times the value of the typical employee earning $26,000* / year (gross – with the new raise) to the Wal-Mart company. Perhaps you could establish a multiplier of 300 or so between the lowest wage to your compensation. Perhaps Doug McMillon could get by on $7.8 million a year**.

The push for a $15 / hour minimum wage is not going away. You can try to buy off your workers with something less. If we have another recession, fear of losing their jobs will force your workers to accept less for a time. But eventually your workers will find some tactic for getting what is rightfully theirs. Don’t force them to take it from you.

* $13/hr x 2000 hr/year = $26,000 ( assuming 40 hr weeks -> 50 weeks/year x 40 hr/week = 2000 hr/year )
** $26,000/year x 300  = $7,800,000

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Enablers

Alexander Demos, Glen Ellyn Village President
Glen Ellyn Civic Center
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Dear Sir,

As a former resident of Glen Ellyn, and a former constituent of Representative Peter Roskam; I had the misfortune recently to read a press release by Peter Roskam’s congressional office. Available online here:

http://roskam.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/roskam-community-leaders-tout-legislation-blocking-job-killing-obamacare

You are quoted extensively in this press release. I don’t know if you knew what Peter Roskam was going to do with your statements. I hope that you were just duped into supporting the denial of health insurance coverage to part-time workers. If so, I apologize for my comments in the enclosed letter I have written to Peter Roskam. If not, if you do truly indeed believe that the United States would be a better place when we limit who gets healthcare then read on. This letter is for you too.

Evil doesn’t happen by itself. Evil happens because we fear to lose what we have. Evil happens when we compromise our values. We all can choose to either help each other or hurt each other.

I hope you will choose differently in the future.

Letter to Peter Roskam enclosed.

Cancer

Representative Peter Roskam,

Everyone thinks that they can recognize evil when they see it or hear about it. But much that is evil can seem boring or inconsequential.

It is like the smoking of a single cigarette. It is damaging to a person’s health but only by a little bit. Of course, that is only how it starts. The single cigarette can become many, soon the person has become a smoker; and every one of those cigarettes with their small amount of damage to the body results in a case of heart disease or lung cancer.

Your record, Peter Roskam, in the United States House of Representatives is like a case of lung cancer in the body politic.

In a recent email broadcast message, you brag about how you are going to try to pass legislation allowing organizations to deny healthcare coverage to voluntary firefighters and other workers who work more than 30 but less than 40 hours a week. Of course you don’t express it that way. No, you are helping these workers keep their jobs – with underhanded employers who purposely employ them as part-time to avoid all the labor protections that 40 hour, full-time employees have.

What, that isn’t fair?
How about this.

The best example of how bad the Affordable Healthcare law is for part-time employees that you can find in your district; is in the wealthy community of Glen Ellyn, IL, that does not want to cover the healthcare costs of their volunteer firefighters. Firefighters who risk life and limb to save their neighbors trapped in burning buildings, and wrecked cars. Who respond at a moments notice day and night. You want to let those same firefighters and their families just go to the emergency room when they are sick or injured, because the city fathers of one of the most affluent communities in the 6th US congressional district in IL are too cheap to provide health insurance coverage.

Both you and the city fathers of Glen Ellyn should be ashamed. But instead you are proud of being such bastards.

So you write your little legislative change to the Affordable Health Care law. How proud you must be! Workers should have 40 hour a week jobs before their employers are required to provide health insurance. You believe that the rest of us won’t notice this little change to the law. It only covers part-time workers. Most of us are full-time. It is just like that single cigarette that is bad – but doesn’t really poison us enough to do anyone any real harm. But who works a part-time job if a full-time job is available? People generally accept part-time work because they are desperate for any work. These jobs define the working poor, who need health care coverage the most.

Maybe the example of the volunteer firefighters in Glen Ellyn is more coldly calculating than I thought at first. You talk about these volunteer firefighters – but the real target of your bill is the working poor, struggling to get by. Why do you think the Affordable Health Care law had the 30 hour a week provision in the first place? All those employers who purposely hire their workers on a part-time basis.

We have met briefly. You came out to talk to your constituents at a Jewel-Osco store several years ago. You seem like an intelligent and likable person. I simply do not understand how a person with your intelligence can also be so devoid of integrity to consistently promote such evil. Does promotion to ever higher positions in the leadership of the Republican party mean so much to you that it just doesn’t matter how many people ( on this particular issue ) you would deny medical insurance coverage; just so long as you get kudos from your party, and the wealthy elites you court by adopting these ridiculous views?

I hope that you will someday find the courage to help all of your constituents – not just help some at the expense of the others.

You could start today.

Today, you could decide to put away the cigarettes of my extended metaphor; those policies that you promote which harm the people of our country.

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Minimum Wage

President Barack Obama,

Thank you for enacting the $10.10 minimum wage for federal contact Workers. It seems this will largely be a symbolic gesture – but it is important none the less. I have been and will continue to write letters to the leaders of American companies who employ large numbers of minimum wage employees. (see blog entries – A Living Wage, and Courage) who will hopefully decide some day to pay their workers a living wage.

If we can get just one of these leaders to make a similar hourly rate increase, or better yet, institute a policy whereby the lowest company salary is some multiplier of the CEO salary; it could really help in starting to share the productivity gains of the last 30 years with the rest of us.

Of course, you also should work to raise the top marginal tax rate as well. Again, for 30 years as the top marginal tax rate has been cut, and the capital gains rate has been halved, the rest of us: those working Americans who don’t have capital working for us, who can only make more money by working more hours; keep shouldering a larger burden in taxes. It is well past time that the beneficiaries of ‘trickle-down’ economics started paying their fair share to support the institutions of our country.

Again, thank you for this executive order,

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The National Labor Relations Board

President Barack Obama,

Congratulations on achieving the first National Labor Relations Board where all five members have been duly confirmed since August 2003. I knew that President George W Bush had connived to prevent the board from functioning all during his time in office – but I did not know until recently that the filibuster rule in the Senate was not only blocking judicial appointments but other executive department appointments as well. Who would have thought that the Republicans in the Senate could nullify the National Labor Relations Act for ten long years?

Ten years is a long time for workers to be without full enforcement of fair labor laws.

How many union organizing drives have been illegally crushed in the last ten years?

How much has our economy been hurt by falling wages for workers?

Unemployment would be far lower, if workers had received their just portion of the productivity gains contributed to the economy over the past 30 years; instead of their just portion being funneled into the pockets of the 1%. At the same time as the 1% have pocketed these profits, they and the corporations they own, have paid an ever lower percentage in taxes which has caused increased government deficits. So an ever greater share of the tax burden has fallen on the same workers whose wages have been stagnant; and with increased deficits (but mostly from the minds of the lobbyists of the 1%), has come the idea that social security, public assistance, and government pensions should be reduced.

The whole deficit problem is then a conspiracy of the 1% to keep the 99% in their place. And the poor economy or scarcity of jobs is their weapon of choice; we submit, because we fear to lose what little we have.

It is a shame. We are all poorer because we fight over a smaller pie. If the 1%, who already have more than enough wealth to live a very comfortable life: paid a greater percentage in personal and corporate taxes and paid directly or indirectly a living wage to their employees (the 99% or all the rest of us). We all, through our spending of this ‘extra’ money would in turn drive more employment and a better life for all.

You could focus media attention on these issues.

What Republican member of Congress or Senator could ever be re-elected if their constituents were informed how their leaders have conspired with the 1% to steal from them over the years. You could make the Republican party irrelevant with the 2014 elections – all you have to do is get the truth before the public.

A Living Wage

William S. Simon
Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Walmart U.S. and President of Walmart U.S.
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611

William S. Simon,

You must feel like you’ve got a big target painted on your back after being singled out yet again, this time by Robert Reich, about how little you pay your one million plus employees. Of course there is that study, Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs; which quantified exactly what your profits cost local states and communities in increased public services, food stamps, etc. which your employees need to survive. A man in your position needs a thick skin when profiting from the desperation of his employees.

Robert Reich believes that you are a lost cause. That you are a cold and heartless executive with no compassion or empathy for your employees and fellow men and women. Admittedly, all available evidence argues his point for him. The study mentioned above was published in 2004. You don’t seem to have announced any increases in wages you pay your employees. You continue to crush any attempts of your employees to unionize so that they would be able to collectively bargain with you. Your management bio page itself is a tribute to the marketing propaganda of Wal-Mart: “lowering costs in order to offer customers lower prices”. Robert Reich believes that the only way you will pay your employees better wages is a boycott of Wal-Mart: to force you for economic reasons to do so.

I have previously written to Jeff Stratton the President of McDonald’s USA, asking him to institute a multiplier of CEO/top management pay to lowest paid employee. In this way, every time the people at the top get a pay increase – everyone in the company – especially at the bottom of the wage scale would share in this increase.

I ask you, to do the same.

Please read the Robert Reich blog posting I reference above. You are in a position to really change the economy for the better. If you and Jeff Stratton increased wages at the lowest end of the pay scale – just think of the boost to the economy. Both your companies would be far better off (where do your employees shop after all); and your employees too. The best use of much of your profits would be a re-investment in the United States as a whole. And if you act now – our economy would receive this boost, via your employees – just in time for Christmas. Who says that you cannot buy good will?

By our actions we make the world what it is.

Please do your part to make our world a better place.

Courage

Jeff Stratton, President, McDonald’s USA, LLC
One McDonald’s Plaza
Oak Brook, Illinois 60523

Jeff Stratton,

Last Friday, you were confronted by courage in the person of Nancy Salgado. And you responded in the way that we have come to expect from the 1%. Instead of thanking Nancy Salgado for her 10 years of service, you first had to say that you have been working for McDonald’s for 40 years, while your thugs had her arrested for daring to ask for a living wage.

I was curious how much you are compensated – the only information I found was something from 2013 (using 2011-2012 data), where the top CEO compensation was given as a multiplier of the median compensation of the lowest paid workers. For McDonald’s this figure was 351 when James Skinner was CEO. This is a better (lower) ratio that many US companies. But I believe you can do better.

Please consider what is going on in our country and the world. There is unrest nearly everywhere in the world, it is only a matter of time before we have it here in the United States. What happens when all the Nancy Salgado’s demand a living wage? Start building some good will now – announce that McDonald’s will set top executive compensation for the restaurants you control to some multiplier of the least paid employee. Get in front of this issue, with fairness. I know that it may not be that simple – you have franchise owners, etc., but you are in a position to set an example. To display fairness to your workers will differentiate the McDonald’s brand more than any product offering, slogan, or gimmick.

By our actions we make the world what it is.

Please do your part to make our world a better place.