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Entries in Protests (7)

Wednesday
Nov212012

Labor Board Calls Walmart Strike Decision 'Complex'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has not yet decided whether to stop planned Black Friday protests in front of Walmart stores, calling the allegations that a union is conducting illegal picketing "complex."

Walmart, the largest employer in the country with 4,000 U.S. locations, had requested last Friday that the NLRB issue an injunction against planned protests outside Walmart stores that could take place on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  But the NLRB Office of General Counsel said it will likely not be able to issue a decision before Thursday about the protests.

Walmart does not recognize an official workers' union and alleges that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is organizing illegal picketing at its stores.

Labor advocates critical of Walmart say it does not pay workers enough and many part-time workers are unable to work more hours and earn additional income.

On Tuesday evening, the NLRB said it cannot issue a decision yet because the issue is "complex."  Since Monday, the labor board has investigated Walmart's allegations by speaking to the union, interviewing witnesses and sifting through documents provided by Walmart.

"The legal issues -- including questions about what constitutes picketing and whether the activity was aimed at gaining recognition for the union -- are complex," the labor board said.  "Also, there are many distinct factual circumstances at stores across the country to consider."

The NLRB said it expects to complete its investigation by Wednesday.

Since October, a group supported by the UFCW, Our Walmart, has threatened to protest against Walmart's 8 p.m. opening on Thanksgiving Day, and what the group says are unfair labor conditions.  The group has said protests could take place at 1,000 locations.

Based in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart employs 1.3 million associates, and the company says only a small minority of workers, less than 0.0003 percent, are expected to protest on Black Friday.

"In fact, many of our associates have urged us to do something about the UFCW's latest round of publicity stunts because they don't think it's right that a few associates that are being coerced by the UFCW are being portrayed by the media as representative of what it's like to work at Walmart," Walmart national media relations director Kory Lundberg said in a statement.

Lundberg said "most of the numbers of people the UFCW claims at their events aren't even Walmart workers.  They are union representatives and other union members."

Colby Harris, an Our Walmart member from Lancaster, Texas, fired back.

"Walmart is doing everything in its power to attempt to silence our voice.  But nothing -- not even this baseless unfair labor practice charge -- will stop us from speaking out," he said.

Walmart said more than one million associates will be working through the holiday weekend.

In defense of its labor practices, the company said it has 250,000 associates that have worked for the company for more than 10 years and it promoted 165,000 hourly associates last year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr302012

May Day Protest? Banks Get White Powder Envelopes

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Envelopes containing suspicious powder were sent through the mail to at least seven locations in Manhattan, primarily Wells Fargo banks, in an apparent May Day protest, police officials said.

"This is a reminder that you are not in control," said a message that arrived with the envelopes. "Just in case you needed some incentive to stop working we have a little surprise for you. Think fast you have seconds."

Four of the seven samples have tested negative so far. The envelopes apparently contained corn starch.

Police believe the suspicious envelopes were mailed by militants from within the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Labor, immigration and Occupy Wall Street activists are planning protests for "May Day," May 1, which also is known as international workers' day. The intent is to show the "1 percent" what life without the working class' "99 percent" would be like.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo may have been singled out for the white powder mailings because about half of a key dozen Occupy Wall Street members have backgrounds in Oakland, San Francisco and Berkeley, and similar incidents occurred in California earlier this week, police sources said.

In the New York cases, the envelopes mainly appear to have reached low-level workers at the bank branches.

"Apparently the message was aimed at the mailroom workers among the '99 percent,'" New York police spokesman Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told ABC News.

The envelopes, intended for May Day delivery, arrived at the banks early.

"They underestimated the efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service," one official said.

Occupy Wall Street threatens to block New York-area tunnels and bridges in the morning of May 1 in an effort to keep commuters from arriving at work, police officials said. They also have urged pickets at "99 locations," an obviously symbolic number.

The Occupy movement has identified 30 to 40 locations, including banks, where they intend to block entrances, officials said.

There will be a significant amount of police officers on duty to counter the protests, though police officials did not give specific numbers on the planned deployment. The day shift is the largest of three tours, with a minimum of 7,000 officers routinely on duty and the ability to hold the overnight shift for coverage.

An additional large number of officers will be on duty for a labor march slated for 5:30 p.m. That march has for several years been a peaceful event by organized labor.

In Los Angeles, officials said 2,500 police will be on duty for the May Day events, and there will be a command center with nearly 100 officers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

An Ethical iPhone: Protesters Rally at Apple Stores

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Protesters rallied at the Apple store in Washington, D.C., Thursday to deliver roughly 250,000 signatures in a demonstration calling for an end to unethical manufacturing practices at the tech giant’s factories in China.

The protest was one of six being held in cities around the world inspired by Mark Shields -- a consultant from Washington, D.C. -- who launched a petition on change.org in January. Shields is a self-described Apple user who became mobilized after hearing reports of poor working conditions at factories run by Foxconn, one of Apple’s biggest suppliers.  

According to a New York Times investigation, Foxconn’s Chinese workers are subjected to poor conditions at the company’s factories. Reports claim that there have been multiple attempted suicides at its plants, including recently when 150 workers threatened to jump from a roof following a dispute about pay. Other charges against Foxconn include unfair wages and hazardous working conditions.

Shields’ demonstration included a small group of signatories and representatives from sumofus.org, another organization which has been collecting signatures to encourage Apple to make the iPhone5 the first ethically manufactured Apple product. Change.org’s petition demands that Apple announces “a worker protection strategy for new product releases, which are the instances when injuries and suicides typically spike because of the incredible pressure to meet quotas timed to releases.”

“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain,” Apple said in a statement to ABC News. “We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple.

“Every year Apple inspects more factories, going deeper into the supply chain and raising the bar for our suppliers. In 2011 we conducted 229 audits at supplier facilities around the world and reported their progress on apple.com. Last month, Apple became the first technology company admitted to the Fair Labor Association, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving conditions for workers around the world. The FLA's auditing team will have direct access to our supply chain and they will report their findings independently on their website,” the statement from Apple said.

Protests were also held at Apple stores in New York, San Francisco, London, Sydney and Bangalore, India on Thursday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct272011

‘Occupy’ Protests Cost Cities Millions

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With tensions mounting daily, the name Scott Olsen has become a national rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Olsen, a 24-year-old Iraq veteran, is in serious condition after suffering a fractured skull during clashes with police in Oakland.

He joined the protests after work Tuesday night and suffered his head wound when police fired tear gas into the crowd during the crackdown. People who came to his aid were then scattered by a gas canister tossed by police.

In an effort to show solidarity with Olsen and their counterparts in Oakland, protesters in New York City marched to City Hall on Wednesday night. The demonstration led to a tense confrontation with police and 10 arrests.

On Thursday, the police union said officers had showed restraint but the union would sue any protester who injured an officer.

So are the confrontations entering a dangerous new stage?

Many city officials are under pressure from constituents tired of unsightly tent cities, dead grass and dangerous conditions. The cost to already struggling municipalities, which must protect and clean up after the protesters, is soaring.

“We know for a fact we’ve crossed the $300,000 threshold in terms of money spent so far for this operation,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

In San Francisco, the bill is more than $100,000.

“It’s just something that has to happen, it’s a worldwide movement,” said protester Dustin Sneed, who has been at the San Francisco protest since the beginning.

Across the country, the figures are growing. In New York City, overtime costs are $3.4 million. In Minneapolis, the sheriff’s department reports spending $200,000. And in Boston, the tally is $2 million and counting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Sep302011

Wall Street Protesters Meet Champagne Sippers

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While the protesters on Wall Street have shifted their attention to the New York police headquarters in light of alleged macing by officers last weekend, the focus remains on “corporate greed and corrupt politics,” according to the protesters’ “de-facto” website, OccupyWallSt.org.

Last week, a protester posted a video on YouTube of onlookers on a restaurant balcony sipping drinks and taking pictures as the group marched about five minutes away from Zuccotti Park, where many of the protests have taken place.

The well-dressed guests at the restaurant, Cipriani 55, were in sharp contrast to the protesters holding signs and chanting below. The restaurant is associated with Cipriani Club Residences’ luxury apartments at the same address, 55 Wall Street.

Cirpriani 55 did not immediately return a request for comment.

The protests on Wall Street, which began Sept. 17, have grown to include celebrities such as actress Susan Sarandon and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.

Hundreds of people first gathered at Bowling Green Park in Manhattan, home of the iconic bull statue in New York’s Financial District, to protest “against financial greed and corruption,” according to the group’s website.

Protests have expanded to other cities, including San Francisco and Boston. A group with a website called “Occupy Boston” said it plans to start a protest at 6 p.m. EST Friday night in downtown Boston in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The group’s website reads: “The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America. Our comrades have already begun the occupation of Wall Street in New York.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

Google Exec Missing in Egypt

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (CAIRO) -- Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, Wael Ghonim, is reportedly missing after traveling to Cairo, Egypt in support of protesters.

Friends and relatives of Ghonim advised him not to participate in the protests, according to The Next Web, but Ghonim decided against them.

Now among the many missing protesters in Egypt, Ghonim was last heard from on Jan. 27, according to his Twitter profile.  He tweeted, "Pray for #Egypt.  Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people.  We are all ready to die."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

Analysts Fear Effect Egypt Protests Will Have on Oil Markets

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAIRO) -- The uprising and political unrest in Egypt is already having economic affects around the world.

On Monday, analysts will watch to see if the stock market rebounds from Friday's 166-point drop, as the price of oil continues to rise.

Though Egypt doesn't produce much oil, it controls the Suez Canal and a major pipeline that exports two million barrels of oil from the Persian Gulf.  Oil industry analysts predict that in the worst case scenario the Suez Canal will shut down and revolt will spread throughout the Arab world, which could interrupt production.

"You start getting into a doomsday scenario, where you do get very high oil prices.  But you are going to see more than the price of oil affected.  You are going to see the world economy effected everywhere," Robin West, an oil industry analyst said.

West added that it is very unlikely the effects will be that widespread.  There may be short-term volatility, but whoever is in charge of Egypt will want to make money, so they will find a way to sell oil, he said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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