By CHRISS W. STREET - Jan 17, 2016
Los Angeles residents of impoverished Chinatown were shocked to learn on January 17 that the Walmart they pleaded for years to get would be shut down at 7 p.m. Sunday evening due to the city’s new $15 minimum wage ordinance, and union harassment.
The closure was described by the company as one of 154 closures “that took into account a number of factors, including financial performance as well as strategic alignment with long-term plans.”
Immigrant Hispanic and Asian residents of central Los Angeles campaigned for years for a “big box” retailer to locate in their economically depressed neighborhood to compete against liquor stores that sold a limited number of food items at very high prices. In September 2013, Walmart finally opened a 33,000-square-foot grocery and drug store in the Chinatown area.
Crowds flocked to the store for lower food costs, substantially cheaper pharmaceuticals, and even ethnic offerings. But labor leaders immediately started protesting against the store for refusing to unionize, even though 100 Walmart employees refused to sign union cards.
During the November 2014 Black Friday protests in downtown Los Angeles led by the union-funded Movement Generation’s Justice and Ecology Project, thousands of protesters were bused in to protest against Walmart destroying downtown, even though the company only had the one store in Chinatown.
According to Movement organizer Brooke Anderson, “As people deeply committed to environmental and climate justice, we condemn Walmart as a climate criminal and we stand side-by-side with Walmart’s workers organizing for $15 per hour, full time work, and the respect they deserve.”
During last summer’s union-led “Fight For 15” minimum wage movement in Los Angeles, Walmart was demonized on giant banners proclaiming, “Walmart Wages War on Workers” and “Walmart Wages War on Planet Earth.”
But after succeeding in pushing through a minimum wage that was set to start on January 1 at $10 an hour and jump in steps to $15 in 2018, unions and liberals have begun to panic that spiking wages might actually cause the 15 percent rate of unemployment among those with a high school diploma or less to rise.
The Center for Individual Rights
JANUARY 12, 2016
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Friedrichs v. CTA on Monday, January 11th. Rebecca’s attorney, Michael Carvin, faced the Solicitor General of California, the union attorney, and the Solicitor General from the Obama administration. Oral arguments lasted eighty minutes, with the time divided equally between the two sides. If the tenor of the questions is any indication, it appears that a majority of the justices seemed favorable to the argument put forth by Rebecca Friedrichs.
A majority of the justices focused their time and questions on the merits of the primary issue before the court: whether compelled union dues violate the first amendment. The other justices, however, spent a great deal of time discussing ways to avoid the merits of the primary issue. Several of the justices, for instance, suggested that even if Rebecca Friedrichs has the stronger legal argument, she should still lose her case because of the legal doctrine of stare decisis. That the Justices spent so much effort on this line of reasoning indicates they may have already conceded that Rebecca Friedrichs has the stronger arguments on the merits.
While union members protested on the steps of the Supreme Court with signs that echoed the union talking points and insisted that compelled agency fees are not political speech, the union attorneys inside the court spoke out of the other side of their mouth. Contrary to the talking points the unions have promoted through the internet and protests, they have always conceded in their legal briefs and before the court that agency fees and collective bargaining are political.