Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Save money. Take away rights. Walmart.

I have had many life-changing experiences throughout my short 23 years. Meeting the Rev. Rebecca Turner in 2009 was one of those days - Faith Aloud helped me to realize that I don't have to compromise my beliefs. Living for three months in a developing Latin American country was another eye-opener. Ranking among my life-defining moments was meeting Betty Dukes. Unless you've lived under a rock for the past 10 years, her name should ring a bell. She is the named plaintiff in the landmark case, *Dukes v. Walmart*, originally a race discrimination suit but was expanded to include the 1.5 million female Walmart employees and former employees who were passed up on wage increases and job promotions, which were given to male counterparts. Ms. Dukes claimed that Walmart Stores, Inc., violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with its clear and obvious bias against women.

Betty Dukes is the Rosa Parks of our generation, and is exactly the kick in the pants that our country needs. A humble, working-class woman from California, Ms. Dukes was scraping by off the multi-billion dollar megacorporation's meager minimum wage salary. She loved her job, and performed well. There were no legitimate cited reasons from the defendant Walmart that would indicate why Ms. Dukes would not receive a promotion or pay raise. But she didn't. So she fought back

And that woman fought hard. Ms. Dukes made connections with Equal Rights Advocates to represent her, won at trial court level, at the appellate level, and so on- then took her case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Until Walmart reared its ugly, discriminating head and made Ms. Dukes' case into something so far off-base from its original claim. Walmart said that Betty Dukes' case violated the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and its guidelines on class action suits.

Never mind that she was making minimum wage while the Walton family squandered its wealth. Forget that she was denied job promotions, pay increases, and project assignments. And ignore the fact that Walmart uses sweatshops, undercuts competitors, destroys jobs (and lives), and violates EPA and labor guidelines. Instead of owning up to the fact that the Arkansas-based mega-corporation violated multiple federal laws, Walmart's lawyers turn the tables in true lawyer fashion and make the issue about something that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand.

The turned-around, newly-dubbed "Walmart v. Dukes" redefined that federal standards for class-action suits, making it harder for the middle-class worker to file suit against his mega-employer.

And the four conservative, anti-women, anti-labor, anti-rights judges agreed with Walmart, and somehow got Kennedy to agree with them.

If you're not fired up yet, you're not paying attention. Your purchase at Walmart has cost a qualified woman a pay raise, a job promotion, and so on. Those bananas that cost you $0.89 just cost a woman her ability to feed her children. You could have spent $1 at a farmer's market or local grocer. Is someone's rights worth the $0.11 deficit? That's what you do, that's how your Walmart purchases, are helping to bring America down.

I love my country. I truly, honestly do. But our nickel-and-diming to save a few bucks at Walmart and other mega-retailers have cost us dearly. I've heard from many conservative friends and family members that "ObamaCare" is cutting jobs. Well guess what. Increasing national healthcare coverage doesn't kill jobs; your shopping at Walmart does.