Workers Plight: A Slow-Moving Tornado

This is a short piece because I’m trying to get it picked up as a letter to the editor. For a more complete story about this situation, see this excellent article in the Metro Lutheran.

Workers plight: A slow-moving tornado

Kudos to Cubs Foods for responding to the tornado in North Minneapolis by hosting a BBQ for the neighborhood the very next day. Providing free food and a place for conversation honors their commitment to “partner with local communities in ways that go beyond our stores” and their understanding that “being a good corporate citizen is an ongoing responsibility” (www.cub.com).

I only wish they had the same commitment to provide a place for conversation for the workers who clean their own stores overnight. These workers have seen their wages drop from $11/hour in 2001 to $8/hour today. Outsourced by contract to Carlson Building Maintenance, Cub has refused to negotiate a code of conduct to insure equitable wages and appropriate staffing. They insist this is Carlson’s issue, but Cub benefits from competitive bids that seek contracts by cutting workers’ wages.

When roofs are ripped off homes, Cub is quick to be a good corporate citizen, but plummeting wages have hit these workers and their families and homes as hard as a slow-moving tornado over the past decade. It’s time for Cub Foods to be a good corporate citizen not by offering charity to those in need, but by actively participating in justice for those who help make their store a good place to shop. Maybe the first round of negotiations could happen over another Cub-hosted BBQ—this one to heal divisions caused by that slow-moving tornado.

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