Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I hate the Pig

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I hate the Pig!

In my small community, Zion, IL, the local supermarket, Piggly Wiggly, was taken over by new management this week. The first act of the new manager was to fire all of his employees.

It was a brutal act that hit hard for senior employees who have given more than 15-20 years of service to Piggly Wiggly. What made this store unique were its employees who worked hard to make life easier for its customers. They were friendly folks.

Despite my love for good beef bacon – the “Pig” has the best brand of beef bacon – I will no longer shop at the Pig. It’s over. My love affair with the Pig has come to an abrupt and painful end. The quality of my life has just been diminished by a cold act of management that would cause the founder of Zion, Dr. John Alexander Dowie to flip in his grave.

Zion is a city founded on Christian principles. Dowie sought to build a society where people lived and worked together as Christians. Where they could trust God, live clean lives, have healthy habits and work together for the honor and glory of God.

Dowie and his followers weren’t a bunch of crazy religious zealots. The City of Zion is remarkable if you study its history and how it was carefully planned with wisdom, compassion and love for the followers of the Christian Catholic Church, now known as the Community Church of Christ.

Dowie’s economic scheme to support the city was absolutely brilliant. Social scientist today would do well to study some of the early economic concepts that led to the creation of Zion City.

Zion had its own institutions and industries – printing and publishing; apron and handkerchief and curtain industry; beef meat market (Zionites would not eat pork); a baking industry and more.

In the Zion Leaves of Healing, 1922 it states: “We have established, large and small, more than 20 institutions and industries, and have devoted to them whatever abilities God has given to us; and this we have done keeping in mind the good of all the people concerned, ever seeking to cooperate with our brothers and sisters in Christ along with strict Christian guidelines.”

It’s too early to say “…Zion is a dead city.” It is not! Zion is undergoing a quiet economic revival that would certainly have the approval of its founder, except for the City Council’s decision to allow liquor to be sold in the city. In his wildest dreams, Dowie could have never expected the unexpected being sold in Zion.

But business is business and who cares about history these days. Who cares about people being thrown out of work? Today the concerns seem to be what is good for the greater good, even if it only benefits the greed of a company located in Dallas, Texas?

The company has benefited with economic incentives to construct a brand new grocery store in Zion. The city worked out a cozy little package for the Pig that included the clever rewriting of city statutes permitting the sale of alcohol in the store. The corporate boys completely disregarded the rich history of Zion and did a slam dunk on the community.

And don’t blame leadership in Zion for this mess. The City Council did the right thing (although I disagree with the liquor thing) A progressive thinking city should reward businesses that provide their employees a living wage and basic benefits by offering taxpayer subsidies, contracts or grants that will help to promote long-term economic growth.
The new face of American corporations is to negate corporate responsibility to its loyal employees with designed plants to deny access to health insurance for it’s employees by hiring part-time employees, who do not qualify for benefits. Workers in the growing low-wage service sector are the least likely to get health insurance from their employers.
It was a cold-blooded act firing those employees, who now join the ranks of the unemployed in Lake County. They all have families and its going to be a tough road for them as frustration begins to mount and they begin to feel the pain as they struggle to make ends meet in the future.

People who lose their jobs, if they find work, often have to take pay cuts to get new work; the latest Labor Department study finds a typical wage loss of about 7 percent. In a weak labor market, companies can also hire for a little less. What really irks me and makes my skin crawl is that this pathetic act by “the Pig” undermines our most fundamental ideal in America: that if you work hard, you can support yourself and your family.

The folks who gave years of servitude to “the Pig” worked hard, but who cares about them? I will never, ever, set foot in a Piggly Wiggly store for this unjust act against good people who served me for years at that store. I will remember them in my prayers and I ask that you do the same.

I’m sure Dr. John Alexander Dowie is praying for his beloved Zion.


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