One of my first reads of the day was this entry from Robert Eshelman guest blogging at Tom Englehardt's Tomdispatch. In a bit of irony Eschelman notes that Wal-Mart recently settled some 63 class action lawsuits charging workplace violations. These involved Wal-Mart coercing workers into working without pay through lunch breaks or after their scheduled hours. This kind of story has made brief appearances in the mainstream media for years. Why do I say it is ironic? Because one of the lead economic stories this morning was the $2 billion in bonuses Wal-Mart is going to pay out. Well, I shouldn't say pay out since some of that bonus will be in the form of discounts on Wal-Mart merchandise. So it isn't as though all that $2 billion will go out the door.
However, the crux of Eschelman's piece is that there is a war being waged against American workers only half of which (the most positive half) has been reported widely. Companies have been forced by economic circumstances to downsize. But as Eschelman points out "there are actually two wars going on, and only one of them seems to have caught the attention of labor and business reporters. The headlines about the first read: Desperate Companies Forced to Cut Jobs. But many here seem to be experiencing a second war in which businesses are using bad times to act in ways they couldn't in the best of times." It is an interesting piece. Especially, taken in conjunction with the (very) few stories I have read recently (sorry, I didn't keep the links) indicating that companies are getting more aggressive about challenging unemployment claims, even when such claims have merit.