Dec 8, 2010
Scrooges and Grinches are plentiful this holiday season
There are plenty of Grinches and Scrooges this holiday season to choose from with Republicans refusing to the extend unemployment insurance to millions of Americans set to lose their lifeline that will set the U.S. recovery back so they can give more tax breaks to the richest Americans to American corporations that earned profits at the highest total since records have been kept yet still firing people and demanding wage and benefit concessions.
In Michigan, Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun could be a Scrooge after spending more than $1 million in campaign contributions to the Michigan Senate Republicans to kill competition and kill 10,000 Michigan jobs. Despite those great qualifications, they did not make the cut.
Each year, national Jobs with Justice gives an “award” to the greediest, most cold-hearted company or person of the year. Nominations for the 2010 Scrooge of the Year are in, and it's time to vote. Unfortunately, the nominations were too early to accept our recommendations.
There are, unfortunately, seven worthy candidates to win this year’s Scrooge award. However, you can also write in your own candidate, and you can vote until Dec. 20. Here are the nominees with a brief bio of each nominee.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
A small number of Senators, led by conservative Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, have spent this Congressional session aggressively blocking almost all legislation from passing. By August, an incredible 372 bills had passed the U.S. House that had not been acted upon in the Senate. Why? Because as Senate minority leader, McConnell has led the Republicans in blocking debate and threatening to filibuster legislation that would benefit working people. All 42 GOP Senators have even signed a letter pledging to block almost every bill for the rest of the year.
If Express Scripts has their way, 1,000 workers in the profitable company’s Bensalem, Pa. facilities will be out of a job shortly, wondering how they'll be able to put presents under the tree in December while paying the bills in January. The company racked up profits of $1.7 billion last year while processing 449 million prescriptions – a whopping 12 percent of all prescriptions filled in the United States. Despite this enormous profitability, the company announced it plans to close its suburban Philadelphia facilities, even after workers offered to take $8 million in wage and benefit cut.
In city after city across North America, Hyatt Hotels – a past nominee- is leading the fight against middle-class jobs for hotel workers. In 2010, Hyatt and its billionaire ownership family, the Pritzkers, have faced a wave of demonstrations—including strikes and boycotts—by hotel workers across North America who say that Hyatt is trying to eliminate quality healthcare and make the recession permanent for its employees, despite Hyatt's increased profitability and huge cash reserves. Moreover, Hyatt housekeepers are getting hurt. At some Hyatt hotels, room attendants clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is commonly required in the industry. In a 2010 study of hotel worker injuries from 50 U.S. hotels published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, housekeepers working at Hyatt hotels had the highest injury rate of those hotels studied.
Rite Aid, the nation's third-largest retail drug chain, has become increasingly "Scrooge-like" since management went too deeply into debt to buy the Brooks and Eckerd drugstore chain three years ago. That deal -- and other management missteps -- have turned Rite Aid into the poster child for corporate greed. Despite revenues of almost $26 billion in 2010, the company has recorded losses for 12 straight quarters. Yet Rite Aid's top executives continue to pay themselves millions in annual compensation -- while demanding concessions from their hardworking and loyal employees.
For more than a year and a half, Publix has refused to join a growing list of corporations -- nine to date, including McDonald's, Subway, and Whole Foods -- who have committed to working together with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to improve wages and working conditions for the farmworkers who pick their companies' tomatoes.
Even after an historic agreement between the CIW and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange -- which represents 90 percent of all Florida tomato growers -- Publix continues to refer to the issue as a "labor dispute." It refuses to pay one more penny per pound for its tomatoes to increase workers' pay, and to support a code of conduct that will ensure basic rights for workers in the fields.
Giumarra Vineyards is the nation's largest table grape grower, employing close to 2,500 grape workers. Approximately one out of every ten bunches of grapes picked in the U.S. comes from workers for a single company--Giumarra. This company has a long history of intimidating and bullying workers and violating their rights. In fact, back in 2006, a union election was thrown out by an administrative judge because of their unlawful interference. In addition, two farm workers have died of heat-related causes while laboring in Giumarra’s fields. Many of Giumarra’s workers are members of indigenous groups from Mexico. In a lawsuit filed by the former Giumarra employees who are Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, they claim they were the targets of abuse, insults, and discrimination by Giumarra supervisors just because they are indigenous.
The Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industry
Healthcare is big business in the United States, where more than twice as much money is spent, per capita, than in any other country. Tens of millions of Americans do not have access to adequate healthcare. Tens of thousands of Americans die each year because of that lack of access. Almost every American with private health insurance struggles to get their medical bills paid. And measurements of the quality of the U.S. healthcare system — such as life expectancy and infant mortality — are disappointing.
Meanwhile, health insurance corporations in the U.S. are raking in hundreds of billions of dollars (and paying their CEOs tens of millions of dollars) each year. Health insurance corporations are not in the business of providing healthcare; they are in the business of... being in business.
And the pharmaceutical corporations? Aren’t they our miracle workers of scientific research and development? Think again. The pharmaceutical industry — the most profitable industry that there is — spends far more of its hundreds of billions of dollars of annual revenue on lobbying, marketing and advertising than it does on developing new drugs. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry spends more than any other industry on lobbying. So it is no wonder that sixty-one percent of Medicare spending on drugs goes directly to pharmaceutical companies as profit.
Jobs with Justice is a national organization with the vision of lifting up workers’ rights and struggles as part of a larger campaign for economic and social justice and worker‘s rights.