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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

We can't let this stand!

Good news for Reynolds High School global studies teacher Frank Mathews -- he's won statewide teacher of the year honors, and a $10,000 prize.

But uh oh, the prize is coming from those awful, awful capitalists at Wal Mart!

Fireman Randy and Sam the Tram, better rush on out there and rip that blood money right out of Mathews's hands!

Comments (18)

It's nice that he is using the money for field trips.

Global studies? Maybe they should take a trip overseas to one of Walmart's product factories for lessons in labor and exporting American jobs. Or they could just stay here and go to a Walmart and go on a scavenger hunt for managers who are female or people of color. Or they could look for health care benefits. Or, better yet, they could stay in their own school and just take a look at the kids of Walmart employees who are enrolled in subsidized lunch programs because their parents don't earn a living wage.

I call shenanigans....I thought Walmart was one of those "evil corporations" that doesnt care about anything but themselves?

As for the "kids enrolled in subsidized lunch programs because their parents dont earn a living wage"...I call shenanigans on that too. When I was unemployed and unemployment was my sole source of income, we didnt qualify ($300/week for a family of 5 was too much money). And judging from how much they push the lunch program, there much be a boatload of people at my kid's school who make less that that around here.

And how come nobody bitches about Target or KMart or any of those other places that buy their crap from the same factories overseas?
Hell, even Fred Meyer.

"just take a look at the kids of Walmart employees who are enrolled in subsidized lunch programs because their parents don't earn a living wage."

Maybe they could also look at the kids whose parents don't work at Walmart who get their lunches for free. Or maybe the kids whose parents work for the mom-n-pops Sam loves who work for min wage and no benefits. Working at Walmart is a choice not a life sentence.

I have talked to a number of WalMart employees, and they seem very happy. They say the benefits and wages are better than the other places they have worked, and that WalMart treats them good. One worker said that she worked for Ross and they made her a manager at $7.75/hour so that they wouldn't have to pay her overtime, and could make her fill in for any person that didn't show up to work. She started at $10.50/hour at WalMart as a cashier, with a normal schedule.

I don't know where all of this 'bad' WalMart stuff comes from, maybe the WalMarts in Portland and Vancouver don't act the same as the ones in the rest of the country, or maybe the unions just don't like WalMart.

(Studies have shown that when a Super WalMart opens in an area that the grocery prices at all the grocery stores in the area go down. It sure is good for us consumers.)

It's called PR and marketing. Walmart is terrible for local economies but they cover it in giving away a few thousand dollars here and there. It's just another form of advertising. If you're smart enough to not buy every product flashed on your teevee screen you're smart enough to see this.

For those that want to learn more about Walmart check out "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price". If you think development subsidies in Portland are bad, wait until you learn about subsidies to Walmart.

And yes, Walmart is just the worst of a bad group of corporations that should be shunned and avoided. Like Portland? Buy Local.

$10,000 award is still ten grand, regardless of the source of money, the teacher can still be happy and spend it all.

Reminds me of the school board that voted to not only eliminate all tabaco products from the school, but also did not allow any tabacco advertizing on campus (Camel t-shirts, promo pens, etc). And get this, no donations from tabacco companies! And ideally, no donations from companies that do business with tabacco companies!!

Tainted money is tainted money...schools must not be hurting too much to be so darn picky about where their dollars come from.


Nice litany quoted directly from organized labor's list of talking points re Wal-Mart.

Never mind the people "overseas" whose lives have dramatically improved because of Wal-Mart's business - they're not union either.

As for the children of Wal-Mart's employees being disproportionally enrolled in the subsidized lunch program - whether that's true or not - so what. Are you asserting that Wal-Mart is to blame for that? Last time I looked, they didn't shanghai their employees. Nor do they dictate lifestyle choices those employees may make which help render them eligible for the program.

And yes, Walmart is just the worst of a bad group of corporations that should be shunned and avoided. Like Portland? Buy Local.

Yep. Just like when we did not like the Japanese car makers, we shunned their products so that we could buy Ford Pintos and Chevy Chevettes.

Yes, buy local products produced by local Portlanders, even if the Chinese products are much less expensive and higher quality. Please, lets have lots of blind loyalty. And whatever you do, do not let the market dictate prices, or supply and demand.

Like Portland? Buy local.

How am I not suprised at the Walmart defenders? :) It's a good thing I'm not afraid of an argument -- or a little research.

First, the school lunch program: This is the easiest information to dig up.

"Schools are required to serve meals at no charge to children whose household income is at or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines. Children are entitled to pay a reduced price (a maximum of 40 cents for lunch, 30 cents for breakfast and 15 cents for a snack) if their household income is above 130 percent but at or below 185 percent of these guidelines."

Source: USDA School Meals FAQ website http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/About/faqs.htm#Free%20and%20Reduced%20Price%20Meals

Second, the 2006 poverty guidelines. Again, easy to find...

Since someone used a five person family for an example earlier, let's stick with that. The poverty level for a five person family is $23,600 ($20,000 for four if you prefer to work with nice round numbers). Applying the 130% rule above, we learn that that the five person family cannot earn more than $30,680 and receive free lunches. [That is roughly twice the $300/week figure used earlier so I do not understand the denial of benefits.] Families earning above that amount but below the $43,660 mark (185%) are eligible for reduced cost lunches.

Source: US Dept. Health & Human Services website http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/06poverty.shtml

Now, for the less tangible problems. Since others used their personal examples, I'll use mine:

As a former bank teller in a working class town near a Walmart, I had lots of customers who were employees. I learned a lot about Walmart practices from them -- not because they were anti-Walmart (that's the thing - they usually aren't... otherwise why work for them?) but probably because they didn't realize what they were telling me didn't make their employer sound too great (i.e. limitations on hours - which eliminated/reduced their benefits possibilities). I can tell you that none of those people even earned $10/hour.

So let's do the math with those figures. I'll even give you the $10/hr. At 20 hours a week, that pays just over $10k a year. That barely above the poverty level for a single person. So what if they somehow miraculous wound up with a 40 hr/wk job at the same $10/hr? $20,800. Well now. That is great -- that puts a four person family $800 bucks above the poverty level. Congratulations! Get ready to fork over $0.40 for your kids' lunch!

OK, I have to get to class... (don't worry -- I'll check back later to see if I messed up the math) but see how fun this is? A few minutes of research and we can play all kinds of fun games!!!

How am I not surprised at the Wal-Mart attackers?

Let's argue about anything but our original arguments.

OK, time's up, I have to get to 6th grade arithmetic class.

We'll leave Socialist Theory 101 to ellie at another time.


ricky, dear, I'll say this once (before I head off to Socialist Lovenotes 101)...

Some people develop reputations on the internet just as they do in real life. And, just like in real life, I develop opinions about people online fairly quickly. And, once again like real life, there are some people's comments that I don't feel are worth my time to address (regardless of ideology).

(And, yes, you're free to develop your own opinions about my reputation... because, just like in real life, it doesn't hurt my feelings.)

Ellie - I am not afraid of arguments either, but again, I ask, if they do not work at WalMart what would the employees be doing. My guess is one of tow alternatives:
1) Collecting public aid and taking even more benefits, or
2) Working for some small store with no benes and min wage and taking even more public benefits.

This is what drives me nuts about Mr Adams animus towards Walmart - he has not brought one decent job to Portland in place of a Walmart.

Is Walmart best employer? No, but it is a job, OK. I mean Sam spent a bunch fo days working min wage jobs and what did he discover - these are not great jobs, but they are work.

Steve, I don't have all the answers. I don't know what they would be doing -- working at the jobs they worked at before Walmart? It's not like Walmart employees were just beamed into the store -- they came from somewhere. I mean, what would any of us be doing without the jobs we have right now?

As someone earlier pointed out, Walmart is not alone in its practices. There are subpar employers everywhere. The question is whether or not we want to encourage this particular employer with its growth. I'm not actively involved in any anti-Walmart groups and, contrary to what I've been accused, I'm not familiar with their literature (or litanies!) but I'm sure they have statistics about its growth. But, then again, maybe it's just public perception (that it is growing faster than Targets, etc.) because the anti-Walmart movement makes the news? Like I said, I don't know.

Like most problems it seems, there is not an easy solution. I just don't think inviting ethically challenged companies to do business in our communities is a great idea. But, hey, at least they toss those communities a few bones with these little "awards."

It would be interesting to stack Wal-Mart's practices up against those of some of the other retail giants that Portland "tolerates." I know they score poorly against Costco, but how about against Target, McDonald's and Taco Bell?

[That is roughly twice the $300/week figure used earlier so I do not understand the denial of benefits.]

Neither did we. And I never bothered to fight it. (it was especially odd since the form even said you automatically qualify if you are on unemployment...)

Congratulations! Get ready to fork over $0.40 for your kids' lunch!

You know what? When you turn off the cable, quit buying beer, cigs, etc. Its amazing how many peanut butter sandwiches you can afford to make for your kids' lunches. And I bet it costs less than .40 cents.

Jon, it sounds like you ran into incompetent help (which is the same as no help) right when you needed it most. I agree with you that eating affordably can be done with some discipline and a little planning. I do it -- but not with food from Walmart! ;)

Side note: There's an interesting document here detailing Walmart's lobbying last year. There's more at this site listing corporate PAC contributions.

"I don't know what they would be doing". I'd venture to say they did not leave better jobs willingly to work at Walmart.

I am not a big fan of Walmart either, but the answer is NOT telling them to go away. The answer is to provide better jobs than Walmart and force them to pay better wages.

However, when you have a city whose economic development person, after 12+ years of working the issue, has no other answer than building expensive condos and light rail, I don't expect anything better than Walmart - which is very discouraging, especially when I want to live here and see everyone prosper.


Just wanted to thank you for granting me permission to develop my own opinions.

I develop my opinions about the posts and comments - not anyone's reputation.

I don't care about your (or my) reputation - as should be obvious.

Have a nice day!

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