It was 28 degrees according to the Bank of America sign on Wall Street here in downtown Bend as I turned the corner to walk to The Grove restaurant on Bond Street.
There were a lot of people waiting in the line on the other side of the door a lot of people are concerned about WalMart moving into Bend. There was a petitioner asking folks to fill out forms to help out in future actions against WalMart.
I walked in and found a seat. Michael Funky of Central Oregon Jobs with Justice spoke first. He thanked the Grove people for allowing the meeting to happen there free of charge, and he suggested that people show their gratitude by buying food and drink from them, (But not too much).
The meeting was called to order. The first order of business was to elect two new leaders. I didn't understand the details so I'll let it pass.
Michael gave a brief description of Bends version of JWJ. He talked about the 18 local organizations that they were working with. He boasted that Bend and Mazola were the two smallest of the JWJ organizations.
Roxy Bernstien of SEIU local 503 spoke briefly and said she would be happy if WalMart would provide fully paid family care and medical benefits to it's workers.
Joe Petrosik of the local drum corps held up an anti-WalMart sign complete with frowny face. He said that he got the sign at the World Trade protests in Seattle. He described some of this adventures at those protests.
Michael Schiden stood up and spoke about an article in the Bend Bulletin of February 11 that described the events in Jonquille Quebec where WalMart closed their store rather than deal with a union. Canada is suing WalMart for violation of labor laws. I hope they win.
Michael also held up a post card that had been sent out by WalMart and made a contrast between the smarmy post card and WalMart's actions in Canada .
Then the JWJ people showed a brief video about community protest actions that have occurred in St. Paul Minnesota. The people there challenged WalMarts assertion that they were a "Good citizen in the community".
There followed a litany of lawsuits that that were in progress against WalMart, and a statement that it had been accused of 173,000 labor violations.
A Mr. Bernie Hesse came on, and said that the assertion that lower wages lead to lower costs was false. He pointed out that the percentage of labor cost was a small part of the cost of the items sold in the store. He also pointed out that tax payers in the towns where WalMart does business end up subsidizing the low wage workers who have to depend on assistance from those communities because WalMart doesn't pay their workers enough to make ends meet.
A UFCW speaker said that WalMart's labor practices were destroying the fabric of our society.
There was some footage of protesters making statements:
-Of every dollar that goes into the tills at WalMart 80 cents goes to Arkansas.
- For every 2 jobs that WalMart brings to a community 3 jobs are lost.
-Don't let the American Dream become an American Nightmare.
-WalMart uses more resources than it generates.
-Local businesses spend 3 times as much money in the local community thanWalMart does.
-Local businesses donate 4 times as much into their communities than WalMart does, (relative to income).
-You may pay less now, but it's guaranteed you will pay more later.
After the film several speakers stood up and made remarks about various issues surrounding WalMart and it's practices in various parts of the United States.
Michael stood up and spoke again. He said that JWJ didn't want the group that showed up at the WalMart meeting to be confrontational. (personally I think we should be as in-your-face as possible with those people).
There was a film by PBS about how all American WalMart encourages businesses in the use to send there business overseas, mostly to communist China. There was some general discussion about how to build community involvement in fighting the Big Box invasion.
(I want to apologize at this time for any gaps in information, there was a lot of ground covered in a very short time).
More to follow