November 29, was "Black Friday" traditionally the day that the Christmas shopping season begins. It also seemed to mark the beginning of a week of awareness of issues affecting low-wage workers.
It began, as it did last year with protests at Wal-Mart's, Harrisburg, PA was not immune as the Patriot News reported that members of Service Employees International Union 668 joined with religious leaders to support Wal-Mart worker's demands for higher wages and better benefits.
That Saturday, November 30 , MSNBCs Melissa-Harris Perry devoted a good part of her progam to the Wal-Mart protests and the role consumers play in allowing Wal-Mart's practices to continue.
CBS News Sunday Morning made the fast food workers efforts to get higher wages it's cover story for their December 1st program. By focusing on one worker, they also put a human face on their effort.
December 2nd was "Cyber Monday", the on-line version of "Black Friday". This means the beginning of a holiday rush at large warehouses. A reporter for The Nation took a look at life inside an Ingram-Micro warehouse in California and the temporary workers that make up so much of those facilities workforce.
This Wednesday, December 4th, the President spoke out on this issue, at a speech to the Center for American Progress, he outlined his agenda for trying to narrow the lage, and ever-growing income gap. While the speech mentioned briefly the role that the decline of the power of organized labor has played in the widening of this gap, and mentioned strengthing collective bargaining in bridging it, no mention was made of two ideas that would help the working class. Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, and making ir easier for workers to organize, and legislation to rein in the ability of corporations, their CEOs and other wealthy donors to influence the political process.
Finally, like activists of many stripes and in many places, I heard of the passing of Nelson Mandela. Labor in both South Africa and the United States played a major role in the end of minority rule in that country, and I will be taking a look at this in a future article.