Letters for Dec. 9, 2014

• Walmart isn’t being fair to workers • Come together in understanding monk seals

Walmart isn’t being fair to workers

Walmart is the richest corporation in the world, but it doesn’t own the many communities they are located in. Nationwide, associates and former ones, along with community supporters on “Black Friday” Nov. 28, were saying that Walmart workers are worth more than low prices and demanded full-time work, living wages starting at $15 an hour and decent medical benefits for all.

On this day, there were over 1,600 pickets, sign holdings, and even some sit-ins across the country — here on Kauai we held a sign holding in solidarity with Kauai associates.

On that morning around 8:15 a.m. the Lihue manager came out to tell some of us to stop picketing on the sidewalk on the Kaumualii Highway fronting the store, because “Walmart owns the sidewalk” and that she would call the police if we didn’t move. We had double checked with the state Department of Transportation, which holds jurisdiction over the sidewalk, and they told us that Walmart doesn’t own the sidewalk and that the community has a right to hold signs for political purposes if it conducts its action peacefully and does not interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic. Since we wanted to avoid a confrontation, we moved across the street.

Organizing and speaking out for economic justice is a basic right for all workers.

The manager’s bullying tactic is indicative of how Walmart treats its workers. Many retail and fast-food workers receive sub-standard wages, lack full-time work and have no medical benefits.

Many feel they will be disciplined if they openly organize. Fortunately, this section of the working class is beginning to wake up and challenge the iron-fisted control of Walmart and others like them.

Raymond Catania

Lihue

Come together in understanding monk seals

One couldn’t have asked for a better juxtaposition of letters than the two that were in Monday’s edition of TGI. On the one hand, there is a proposal to address the monk seal problem by Fern Rosenstiel, environmental scientist and director of Ohana O Kauai, and on the other, a passionate, belief-driven letter by Marjorie Gifford, outlining concerns she and many others have on this island.

Perhaps the most difficult thing to change is a person’s core belief — especially if it is a false one. In her letter Marjorie wrote, “…no being…should take it upon itself to exterminate the fish that locals depend on.” She believes that the Hawaiian monk seal is not only taking fish from her table, but exterminating them as well.

Many Kauaian fishermen share this viewpoint, which is rooted in a message that has been passed down from generation to generation. This, in spite of the evidence that the few monk seals we have on Kauai rarely hunt for food close to shore, preferring deeper water, well outside the area where our local shore fishermen and throw-netters fish. It is extremely unlikely — and, certainly, there is no evidence — that monk seals have any significant impact on local fisheries.

How do we get people to change this misperception? Not easily. According to Kelly Garrett, assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, “Real-time corrections do have some positive effect, but it is mostly with people who were predisposed to reject the false claim anyway.

If someone (holds) a contrary attitude, the correction not only (doesn’t) work — it (makes) the subject more distrustful of the source.” In other words, if the belief is strong, one discards the information — even if true — because that information is a threat to his core belief.

Thus, facts and evidence alone may not be the answer — they simply aren’t that effective, given how selectively they are processed and interpreted. But if that evidence is presented in a way where there is no immediate threat to one’s understanding of the world, they can, and will, be open to altering their beliefs.

Fern said, “We must come together as a community and sort the fact from fiction, come together, with respect, to admit our wrongs and misunderstandings …” We need to put ideologies aside and focus on presenting issues in ways that keep broader notions out of it. Only then will we be able to come to a consensus.

Steven McMacken

Lihue

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