"Critics argue that giving amnesty to 12 to 30 million illegal aliens in the U.S. would have an immediate negative impact on America’s working and middle class — specifically black Americans and the white working class — who would be in direct competition for blue-collar jobs with the largely low-skilled illegal alien population." JOHN BINDER
The New Year is opening in the US with a wave of
layoff announcements and threats of further downsizing during the year.
In the latest blow to retailers, hundreds of
women’s clothing stores, operated by Ohio-based chain The Limited, shut their
doors over the weekend at shopping malls across the United States. The company,
which has 235 stores nationwide and 4,000 employees, quietly began layoffs in
December before shuttering its stores on Sunday.
Last week, Macy’s announced it was closing 68
stores and cutting more than 10,000 jobs. Sears also said it will shut down
another 150 Sears and Kmart stores, after poor holiday sales. Kohls and JC
Penney previously carried out mass layoffs.
Retailers have been hit by a series of factors,
including the stagnation of real wages of large numbers of consumers and the
growth of online shopping giants like Amazon.
In addition to the retailers, the Big Three
Detroit-based automakers are carrying out thousands of temporary and permanent
layoffs, including the elimination of entire shifts—and the wiping out of more
than 3,000 jobs—at assembly plants in Detroit and Lansing, Michigan, and Lordstown,
Ohio, halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Last Friday, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported slower-than-expected job growth in December. The economy added 156,000
jobs last month, the vast majority in the lower-paying service sector. Obama’s
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez hailed the numbers, saying they showed the
“strength” of the economy. In reality, there has been no recovery for millions
of Americans who, living from paycheck-to-paycheck and up to their necks in
debt, face the constant threat of job loss.
Other recent layoff announcements include:
· Lexington, Kentucky-based Lexmark
International is laying off 320, or 10 percent, of its software business
· Data-storage company Seagate Technology Inc.
has cut 155 jobs at its Shakopee, Minnesota facility.
· Alorica will cut 200 jobs at its customer
communications center in Utica, New York.
· Dole Packaged Foods will close its Stockton,
California frozen yogurt product plant, eliminating 30 hourly and supervisory
· Internationally, Chinese tech giant ZTE will
cut five percent of its global workforce or 3,000 jobs.
The dire situation facing workers will only
escalate under the incoming Trump administration. Despite his bogus
pronouncements of concern for the plight of American workers, Trump’s economic
program is based on massive corporate tax cuts and deregulation and
protectionist trade measures, which will destabilize the world economy and
provoke retaliation against US exporters. He is also proposing a sharp spending
increase for the military and some funding for infrastructure projects, all of
which will be a boondoggle for private contractors and other businesses.
Corporations are also demanding the continued
lowering of labor costs in the US, which was central to the economic policy of
the Obama administration over the last eight years.
This was implemented with the full assistance of
the trade unions, which worked with the White House to suppress a “wages push”
by millions of workers whose labor agreements expired in 2015-16 and who were
determined to recover wages lost in the years following the 2008 financial
crash. With the backing of the unions, wage increases in the private and public
sectors have largely been limited to the rate of inflation and any raises have
more than been eaten up by increased health care costs under Obamacare.
The latest retail layoffs highlight structural
changes in the economy. Millions of workers, young and old, face a “New Normal”
of low-paying, precarious jobs, while the wealthy elite extracts billions in
profit, chiefly through financial parasitism.
Dayton, Ohio businessman Leslie H. Wexner opened
the first The Limited store at a shopping mall in the Columbus, Ohio suburb of
Upper Arlington in 1963. So named because it limited the variety of clothing to
lower costs of quick-selling merchandise, the brand eventually grew to 750
stores with sales of more than $1 billion.
This allowed Wexner to expand into other retail
ventures that would be based in the Columbus area, including well-known chains
such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, Express, Bed, Bath &
Beyond, and others. A decade ago Wexner sold a majority share of The Limited to
private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, which bought the company outright in
2010. Wexner, the CEO of L Brands, pulled in $26,669,306 in total compensation
A month ago, The Limited announced it was laying
off 248 of its headquarters staff in New Albany, Ohio, as Sun Capital continued
to pursue a possible sale. After selling off all of its clothing stock at up to
90 percent discount, along with fixtures and mannequins, the empty stores were
permanently closed Sunday.
“I think it is very
sad,” said Amanda Conley, 49, who bought two of the last pairs of pants at a
central Ohio store, told the ColumbusDispatch. “It’s
been a staple here. Of course, it affects employees and their livelihoods.”
Even as workers were being tossed into the
streets, however, the $9 billion private equity firm was milking the retail
chain for as much as possible. In a letter to investors Friday, Sun Capital
Partners said it made 1.8 times its $50 million investment in Limited Stores
while writing down the remaining equity value to zero.
Fortune noted, “The
disclosure illustrates how private equity firms can boast a profit from companies
whose equity value has been wiped out, having previously recouped their
original investment by taking dividends from these companies, often by having
them borrow more money to fund the dividends.”
Many traditional retailers are falling victim to
pressure from online giant Amazon, which is able to quickly ship merchandise
from its massive and strategically located warehouses using low-wage workers
whose productivity is electronically monitored. In the case of The Limited they
have also fallen victim to other “fast-fashion” stores, like those owned by
Swedish multinational H&M (Hennes & Mauritz AB), which specialize in
the latest fashion discount apparel aimed at younger shoppers.
Apparel retailers, including H&M, rely on a
global supply chain, which includes brutally exploited workers around the
world. In April 2013, 1,133 garment workers were killed and 2,500 wounded when
Rana Plaza, an eight-story building housing several textile factories,
collapsed in the Bangladeshi capital on Dhaka. Half of the 125,000 shirts made
each day at the complex were sold to H&M. Workers made $1.43 a day, for
10-12 hours, producing 250 T-shirts per hour.
Retail workers in the United States are
subjected to inconsistent hours, low pay and an authoritarian atmosphere at
work. Most are on-call employees who must phone in or wait for a call from a
manager to find out their schedules. Turning down a shift because of a
scheduling conflict with family, school or another job means having your hours
cut or instant dismissal.
The retail industry as a whole employed around
16 million workers, up more than nine percent since 2009; nonsupervisory retail
work pays 30 percent less than other private sector jobs.
Last June. 5,000 workers authorized the first
strike in 40 years at Macy’s flagship department store in mid-town Manhattan
and four other locations in the state. Workers wanted wage and health care
improvements and to end the policy that allowed Macy’s to reduce a
salesperson’s commission if a customer returned the merchandise within six
Collaborating with state and local Democrats,
including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Retail, Wholesale &
Department Store Union (RWDSU), which is part of the United Food and Commercial
Workers (UFCW) union, quickly reached a deal, which retains the punitive
commission policy and significant out-of-pocket health care costs.
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Weapon of Mass Destruction on the American Worker
"Los Angeles saw
all crime rise in 2015: violent crime up 19.9 percent, homicides up 10.2
percent, shooting victims up 12.6 percent, rapes up 8.6 percent, robberies up
12.3 percent, and aggravated assault up 27.5 percent,"Landry said.”
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