Last Minute Details and Sol Price

Community Organizing Ideas and Issues WalMart WARN

Sol PriceNew Orleans The last day in the office before a combination of the end of the year, vacation, and work that is so different from the normal day-to-day that it seems “vacation-like,” (don’t ask!), is maddening.  There’s just not enough time.

I had just gotten another reminder of how short time is only hours ago. This time it was in the form of a message from Frank Arundel, who along with Hans Schoepflin of the Panta Rhea Foundation, had worked for Sol Price earlier in their careers, and arranged for me to meet him a little more than 4 years ago to see if he would support our organizing of Wal-Mart workers in Central Florida from Tampa/St. Pete to Orlando.   I gather he must have been 89 or so when we met.  He was feeble and beaten up then, but sharp as a tack.

I’ve written about this before I think.  He was excited about actual organization of Wal-Mart workers.  He wanted us to look into old legal protections against restraint of trade by essentially dumping goods on the market for less than they cost.  He thought this was against the law, though we could never prove it.

He admired unions without being exactly pro-union.  The headline Frank had sent from the San Diego Union-Tribune was:  “Sol Price Valued His Workers over his Shareholders.”  I’m sure that’s true, but his vision was nostalgic unfortunately rather than transcending.  Price did a lot, especially around San Diego.  He liked to keep a close eye.  He should have been able to see farther and might have even done more.  Who knows?

Disappointingly, as he walked me out, I could feel him dismissing me, even though kindly, when he said, “I wish you had met me when I was younger.”  I said the predictable:  you are still young enough now.  But, the point that Price was making was simply that we run out of time, not just today, but always.

In honor of Sol Price and many more, that’s worth remembering.