March 24, 2012

Saturday Shorts: Penn State Child Rapist, Student Body President Ousted, Walmart Exploits Temp Workers

 Penn State Was Alerted In 1998 To Child Rapist Concerns, Georgia H.S. Student Punished For Support Of LGBT Rights, Walmart Still Skirts The Law With Use Of Temp Workers

Penn State Child Rapist Jerry Sandusky

I read in the New York Times this morning that NBC news uncovered a 1998 report, that a psychologist had interviewed an 11 year old boy, in connection with an investigation, and that the findings were supplied to the Penn State university police - because Jerry Sandusky exhibited behavior fitting the profile of a “likely pedophile.” Penn State didn’t act on the report.

Mark Viera wrote:

More than a decade before the former Penn State football assistant Jerry Sandusky was charged with child sexual abuse, a psychologist warned the university police in an investigation into a suspected assault of an 11-year-old boy that Sandusky’s actions in that case fit a “likely pedophile’s pattern.” But the university seemed to do nothing about Sandusky in the wake of that report in 1998.

Doesn’t that make you sick to your stomach?

Alpharetta High School in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Alpharetta High School Slanders Student

In Alpharetta, Georgia, which is a northern suburb of Atlanta with a population of 58K people, Alpharetta High School administrators removed the student body president from his position, because they thought “he was a poor leader.”

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Reuben Lack, a high school senior, filed a lawsuit in federal court “alleging the district violated his First Amendment right to disagree with the process of selecting prom kings and queens.” Reuben, a straight high school student, wanted the high school prom to be more inclusive. After suggesting that LGBTQ students could be a prom king or prom queen, he was removed from his position.

According to D. Aileen Dodd:

Lack believes he lost his leadership position because he of his stance on the prom king/queen issue.

But a lawyer for the school district said his removal had nothing to do with his prom views. His proposal was tabled by his peers on the student council.

“The student was essentially a poor leader,” Suzann Wilcox Jiles, attorney for the district said in a statement. “ He behaved in manner not becoming of student body president including but not limited to rescheduling meetings with little notice, directly going against the instructions of the faculty advisers.”

I think Reuben Lack should be applauded, and I hope that the administration at Alpharetta High School is ordered by the court to reinstate him, and that they have to pay Reuben’s legal fees.

As a former student body president who didn’t have half the courage that Reuben Lack has shown, I remember what it was like trying to meet the needs of the student body, while maintaining a good relationship with school officials. You are constantly walking a tight-rope, and a minor slip can be catastrophic.

I think the real story here is that the school slandered a student. I find it unbelievable that the school district would issue a public statement regarding any student. While it’s been reported that Reuben is 18, and technically an adult, he is still a student until he graduates. I can only presume that the school district knew that this would create a firestorm, and wanted to slander a student in the court of public opinion. Equally shocking is that by removing Reuben from his position, they are ignoring the wishes of the majority of students who elected him.

Faculty advisors are there to guide you, and offer an opinion if they feel you are wading into murky or deep water. They aren’t there to play judge and jury, which is what this homophobic school district has done, by removing Reuben from his position.


Huffington Post journalist Dave Jamieson has damning evidence about Walmart's labor practices.

Hall Of Shame: Another Reason To Steer Clear Of Walmart

There is an excellent investigative piece in the Huffington Post entitled The New Blue Collar: Temporary Work, Lasting Poverty and the American Warehouse. The story is lengthy, and well worth reading.

The reporter, Dave Jamieson, examines how Walmart, our nation’s largest retailer, gets the goods that are shipped to regional distribution centers, to individual stores around the country. He also contrasts the Walmart way with how Costco moves their goods to market.

Jamieson found overwhelming evidence that Walmart is exploiting their temporary workforce, in order to save a few bucks. By outsourcing their distribution center staffing needs to temporary agencies, they can ignore compliance with workplace safety rules, general working conditions, and minimum wage laws.

In Jamieson’s excellent piece he writes:

Walmart may have been the end beneficiary of Dickerson's sweat, but the big-box retailer wasn't directly responsible for her low pay or her aching body. That's one of the many benefits to an employment arrangement based on outsourcing and subcontracting: The corporation at the top indemnifies itself from any unpleasantness at the bottom, thanks to the smaller corporate players in the middle. Many American companies have woken up to this fact, with broad implications for the future of blue-collar work.

But such sub-contracting isn't contained to warehouses and plants. In an effort to cut costs, even hotels have started quietly contracting out a considerable chunk of their back-of-the-house workforce to labor agencies. Hyatt, for example, has replaced many of its housekeepers with cheaper temp workers. Hyatt's direct hires now work alongside many lesser-paid agency workers, some of whom work on a temporary basis for years on end, tracking the minimum wage.

Such subcontracting enables corporations to essentially take workers off their books, foisting the traditional responsibilities that go with being an employer -- paying a reasonable wage, offering health benefits, providing a pension or retirement plan, chipping into workers' compensation coverage -- conveniently onto someone else. Workers like Dickerson, of course, aren't accounted for when Walmart touts that more than half of its workforce receives health coverage.

This reminded me of an excellent column I read last summer by Tina Dupuy, where she called on Walmart to pay a living wage to employees, and stop using taxpayer’s money to subsidize Walmart.

In her column Taxpayers Should Stop Subsidizing Walmart, Tina wrote:

Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world. It boasts of having 1.2 million Americans on their payroll. Its reported annual profits are around $13 billion. So it’s safe to say since it is so big – and so ubiquitous – and so obviously successful – the government can now stop subsidizing it.

Let me explain: I was covering the first stop for the Progressive Caucus’ “Speak Out for Good Jobs Now” listening tour held in Minneapolis attended by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) among others. The first audience member to speak was one Girsheila Green, a young mother from Compton, California, who has worked at Walmart for three years. Ms. Green told the crowded church how in her tenure with Walmart, she’s received two raises and is now a manager. She makes nine dollars an hour (one dollar above the laughably-low California minimum wage). She pulled from her pocket three cards she claimed most Walmart employees at her store have: a 10 percent Walmart employee discount card, her employee ID and her EBT card (what used to be called food stamps).

She relayed that 80 percent of her store is on food stamps. I’d argue one is too many.

I agree with Tina wholeheartedly. Shame on you Walmart! 

Walmart must address the issues Jamieson exposes in his article. This bad behavior gets the retailer back in my hall of shame, and I’m fighting an urge to scream boycott!



straight talk in a queer world.


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