May 29, 2018

Stop Loving Publix For Loving the NRA

                                                                        Image result for publix

Two years later, New Times is still getting hate mail for telling Floridians in 2016 to "stop loving Publix." You all yelled at us then and called us "carpetbaggers" for pointing out that the beloved supermarket chain has abysmal politics. But now, after the Tampa Bay Times detailed the gobs of cash the company is throwing at NRA-loving gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, an official #BoycottPublix movement is brewing, and, honestly, we're a little bitter. Now you all realize that Publix isn't the beloved, benevolent multi-billion-dollar corporation you thought it was?
The Times revealed Publix and others tied to the company have given $670,000 to Putnam in the past three years. Putnam is running a far-right campaign for governor complete with attacks on the so-called "fake news" media, cash from the state's hated utility and Big Sugar companies, and some terrifyingly white campaign ads. Importantly, Putnam said in 2017 he was a "proud NRA sellout" before shamefully trying to walk back that comment after the Parkland school shooting. After the Times article was published, several Parkland and Pulse shooting survivors, including David Hogg, demanded that people boycott the grocery chain until Publix stops funneling cash to Putnam.

Publix is now trying to fend off a swarm of horrible PR by insisting it somehow supports Putnam but not the NRA. Frankly, the chain should have faced this battle a long time ago. Farmworkers, for example, have routinely described Publix as indifferent to the dreadful conditions they face while picking produce. LGBTQ workers have accused the company repeatedly, over multiple years, of discrimination and harassment. m
Here's a primer on why Putnam isn't the only reason to boycott Publix:

1. Publix refuses to join a program guaranteeing farmworkers better wages and protections from sexual harassment. If you haven't seen the 2014 documentary Food Chains, stop reading this article and go watch it. The film chronicles the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers, a labor-rights group in Southwest Florida that formed to protect the rights of people picking produce in the Sunshine State. Tomato and other produce pickers in Florida live in squalor because major grocery chains including Publix demand that produce be sold as cheaply as possible. Many live crammed into trailers with other workers, wake up before dawn, work impossibly long shifts in the sun, and rarely, if ever, see their families.
To help end this system, the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers created the Fair Food Program. Major, multinational corporations, including Walmart and Whole Foods, have joined and pledged to pay workers a penny more per pound of tomatoes picked. Because 80 percent of farmworker women report sexual harassment or abuse, companies that join the Fair Food Program also agree to stop buying products from farms where abuse is reported.
Publix refuses to join the program. (Here's its extremely callous statement about that subject.) The company refuses to even speak to the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers. Food Chains documents a hunger strike the coalition held outside Publix's headquarters, which wound up doing zilch to persuade the company to join the program. Even now that the #MeToo movement has taken hold, Publix has refused this simple step that can help protect farmworkers from sexual violence.
2. Its supermarkets have been repeatedly accused of being hostile places for LGBTQ employees. Last January, the LGBTQ community became enraged at the chain after HIV-positive activist Josh Robbins reported that Publix refused to cover "pre-exposure prophylaxis" (PrEP) drugs that prevent HIV-negative people from contracting the virus. Because HIV is more prevalent among gay men, many doctors encourage them to take the drug to prevent transmission. It turns out Publix had no actual reason for refusing to cover the drugs — it simply didn't want to, and reversed its decision after LGBTQ activists became rightfully upset.
Most people suspect that Publix's reasoning was entirely political and that the chain simply didn't want to "subsidize" safe, potentially gay sex. The chain has faced anti-LGBTQ accusations for years: Numerous employees have recounted allegations of unwelcoming workplaces to New Times since 2014. Gay men have been denied bereavement pay to grieve for dead loved ones. Gay men have been awarded money for being needlessly fired. The company says it's "improving" its stance on LGBTQ issues, but as the PrEP saga showed, it's still far behind the times.  
3. The heiress to their founder's fortune hates medical marijuana. Carol Jenkins Barnett, the daughter of founder George Jenkins, in 2016 gave $800,000 to a scare-tactics campaign trying to prevent medical marijuana from becoming legal in Florida. The contribution would seem bad enough on its face, but it looks even worse when you consider that Publix is also a pharmacy and that doctors in medical-marijuana states prescribe fewer doses of opioids, anti-anxiety meds, and other prescription pills when medicinal cannabis is legal.
4. Publix has had a hand in fighting local minimum-wage increases and environmental protections. Publix has, in the past, exerted major influence over the Florida Retail Federation, a pro-corporate, right-wing trade group that really doesn't like when workers in the state ask for things such as fair wages and bargaining rights. After the City of Miami Beach tried to raise its minimum wage to an eventual $13.31 per hour in 2016, the Retail Federation sued. At the time, the federation's five-member board of directors included a Publix executive. 
The Publix-backed Federation also sued the city of Coral Gables after the town tried to ban the use of plastic bags in a bid to help clean up the environment. (For what it's worth, Publix also apparently has a pretty big food-waste problem, too.)
5. The company for years has donated to gun-loving RepublicansThe Putnam campaign is not even close to the first time Publix or its executives have dumped cash into Republican coffers. Sure, it's donating an unprecedented amount of money to Putnam, but the chain has helped prop up a whole laundry list of NRA-coddling GOP politicians, including Sen. Marco Rubio (who accepted $36,500 in Publix cash in 2016) and Rep. Carlos Curbelo (who got $31,600 the same year). According to the blog Florida Politics, the company gave $2.6 million to Florida candidates during the 2016 election cycle, and the majority of that money went to the GOP.
Bet that next Pub sub might taste a little different from now on.
[Top Picture: Florida today]
5 Other COmpanies Besides Publix Giving Big Money to the NRA:

Image result for adam putnamFlorida gubernatorial candidate, Rick Scott ally, and self-proclaimed "Proud NRA sellout" Adam Putnam
(on the picture on left) will pretty much take campaign money from anyone. Case in point: He scheduled a fundraiser last week with a man who was previously videotaped repeatedly shooting two dogs. Putnam responded by saying that the donation from said dog-shooter was fine, since his opponent, the Trump-endorsed Ron DeSantis, "took donations from Democrats," because apparently, Democrats are morally equivalent to people who shoot dogs.
But one of Putnam's big donors has spent the last week gravely regretting their financial support: Publix faced a "die-in" from Parkland survivors, led by David Hogg, over the $650,000 the grocery chain has given Putnam over the last three years. Gun-control advocates demanded Floridians boycott Publix until the company changes its ways — and, in response, Publix agreed to suspend its political donations and reevaluate where its money goes. 
For gun-control advocates, that's a victory (though it's unlikely Publix will stop donating political cash overall), but there are a whole bunch of other Florida corporations and executives still propping up the "proud NRA sellout." 
Those companies have so far evaded criticism for their donations — here are the most prominent few:  
1. Florida Power & Light. FPL, the company that spent millions trying to con Floridians into giving up their solar-power rights in 2016, runs a nuclear plant in Homestead that polluted Miami's drinking water supply and remains a massive carbon polluter contributing to climate change. According to the Miami Herald, FPL had already given Putnam's "Florida Grown" political-action committee a whopping $587,060 as of March 2017. 
2. Big Sugar. U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals are the only companies that Florida environmentalists hate more than utility firms. Environmentalists blame Big Sugar for polluting the Everglades and the state's drinking-water supply. According to a Treasure Cost Palm analysis from last month, U.S. Sugar has given Putnam's PAC $340,000 since 2017, while Florida Crystals has kicked in $65,000.
3. Walt Disney World. Much like Publix, Disney is another beloved Florida corporation with absolutely garbage politics. The company was the subject of a huge labor protest earlier this year, which somehow didn't get much national press attention. According to Florida Division of Elections, the Big Mouse has pumped $510,000 into Putnam's PAC since 2017.

4. Comcast and AT&T. According to state records, Comcast dumped $75,000 into the Florida Grown PAC in the last 12 months. AT&T pitched in $25,000, too. If you don't already despise these companies, then — congrats! You must be the CEO of Comcast yourself. Your life sounds cool. Can we have $75,000, too?
5. Private Prison Giant GEO Group. GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, is the second-largest private-prison company in America. They control both standard prisons and even a bunch of detention centers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union said that ICE guards at a GEO facility in Arizona were torturing Iraqi inmates. GEO has repeatedly been sued for allegedly forcing immigration detainees to work for food, has been accused of sucking money out of defenseless prisoners for necessary items, has been accused of mismanaging millions in federal money, and operated a Southern California facility that was named the "deadliest ICE detention center of 2017." The company helped prop up Donald Trump's presidential campaign — and has donated at least $50,000 to Putnam's PAC, per state records.

Read Current Sittuations as of Memorial Day:

No comments:

Featured Posts

10 People Die On Trump's Visit to India, No Empathy from Him But To Say is India's Problem

This page published on BBC Ten people have been killed in Delhi amid clashes over a controversial new Indian citizenship ...