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Gender: Female
Hometown: midwest
Home country: usa
Current location: ohio
Member since: Thu Mar 5, 2020, 02:11 PM
Number of posts: 1,020

Journal Archives

High Cost of Ikea: 2/3rd of Romanias Forests & Violence

Romania is home to one of the largest and most important old-growth forests in the world—but its trees are disappearing at an astonishing rate. Meanwhile, a spate of attacks, and deaths, has shaken environmentalists and activists in the country. On episode 43 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk with the reporter Alexander Sammon, who recently traveled to Romania to investigate illegal logging for The New Republic. Can Europe’s forests survive the global appetite for timber?


Laura Marsh: In September, the reporter Alexander Sammon traveled to Romania to investigate illegal logging. He knew going in that there had been a spate of attacks on journalists and environmentalists in the forest. In 2015, an environmentalist named Gabriel Paun was beaten unconscious by loggers. The former minister of waters and forest was poisoned with mercury in 2017, after she tried to crack down on illegal logging. In 2019, two forest rangers were murdered, and in 2021, just before Alex arrived, a documentary film crew was ambushed in their car by a group of 15 armed men.

Laura: A lot of people might not understand why the stakes are so high: why there are these attacks, why it’s so fraught. What is at stake in clearing the last of the old-growth forests?

Alexander: There’s a lot of money on the line—that’s one thing. There are huge multinational timber corporations, and there are furniture companies like Ikea, which happens to be the largest private landowner in Romania. They all have a lot riding on those trees becoming things like chairs and particleboard and bed frames and the like. On the other side, you have the European Union and its climate commitments and biodiversity commitments, which are, I think, less prominent and less widely known. Those forests are extremely important because they’re not only the most effective carbon capture method on the planet—the old-growth forest captures carbon at this incredible rate that’s not seen in logged and replanted forests—but they also serve as an ecosystem for bears and lynx and other endangered or threatened species.

Near end of interview:
Laura: I never like to ask how individual people can react to discovering this kind of information—I don’t like talking about the way consumers can vote with their dollar and not buy from Ikea. But if you are in Ikea and you’re shopping for furniture, can you even find out what came from Romania and what didn’t?

Alexander: It’s really hard to tell. It’s actually almost impossible. If you were to go to Ikea right now and look at what’s on the shelves there in the stockroom, the furniture pieces will say, “Made in Romania,” “Made in Poland,” “Made in Russia,” but that only tells you the last link of the chain: It shows you where they assembled the pieces and put them together. It doesn’t tell you where the wood is coming from, and that information is not publicly available.

Alex: You were tipped off to these codes that could help someone to figure out the source of the wood in this furniture, and you actually went to an Ikea and found furniture that could be sourced to a particular company. Tell me about the company it could be sourced to.

Alexander: I was tipped off to this one code that corresponds to Plimob, which is a Romanian-based manufacturer. It’s not owned by Ikea, but something between like 96 and 98 percent of their product goes to Ikea. I was tipped off with their code, and I took it with me on the way down to the Ikea here in Brooklyn. I looked through the chairs, trying to find if I could identify something that had come from there. Sure enough, after a little while, I found a handful of them that had that multiple-digit code that indicated that they come from that particular company. That company, Plimob, had recently been implicated in sourcing illegally logged wood for its chairs. The information is there, but it’s certainly not publicly available. As a consumer, there’s almost no way you could expect to find those things out and act or shop accordingly.
Posted by leighbythesea2 | Wed Feb 23, 2022, 10:30 PM (1 replies)

Why Trucking is Struggling - 94% Turnover

And the port conditions of course.
More info in the supply chain.
If everybody is "an independent contractor " when they don't want to be, why are companies suprised when people dont show under adverse conditions?. Reminds me of an article at Utne reader, from 10 years ago, on distribution/warehouse workers.


For the past dozen years, Omar Alvarez has been a key link in the nation’s supply chain. He’s one of some 12,000 truckers who haul the containers from the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (where 40 percent of all the ship-borne imports to the United States arrive) to the immense complex of warehouses 50 miles east of L.A., where the goods are unpacked, resorted, put back on other trucks, and sent to all the Walmarts, Targets, and the like within a thousand-mile radius.

Alvarez works for one of the largest trucking companies at the ports, XPO Logistics, but XPO insists that Alvarez and his fellow truckers aren’t really employees. As far as XPO is concerned, they’re independent contractors and it treats them as such—though they drive XPO trucks they lease from the company or its adjuncts and can’t use those trucks for any other jobs. As independent contractors, they receive no benefits and aren’t covered by minimum-wage statutes. They must pay for their gas, maintenance, rig insurance, and repairs themselves; and, ever since the pandemic clogged the ports with more goods than ever before, they’ve had to wait in lines for as long as four to six uncompensated hours before they can access a container and get it on the road. If they get in the wrong line at the port, they literally can’t get out, surrounded by other trucks and doomed to waste more time. Many ports don’t even provide bathrooms for waiting truckers, because they aren’t port employees.

According to a 2019 study by the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the median annual pre-tax income of Alvarez and his fellow port truckers, once their expenses are factored in, is a munificent $28,000.

“We have no health insurance,” Alvarez says. Like the majority of port truckers, he’s an immigrant who doesn’t qualify for Medicaid. “When I need to see a doctor,” he says, “I drive [not in his truck] to Tijuana.”

Perhaps one-fifth of port truckers actually are independent contractors; nearly everyone else is, like Alvarez, misclassified as independents. Over the past decade, dozens of lawsuits from misclassified drivers have resulted in judgments affirming that they’ve been misclassified and awarding them compensation from the companies that misclassified them. XPO recently paid a $30 million fine to a large number of its drivers. But neither XPO nor any of the other fined companies have stopped misclassification. It’s cheaper for them to pay a fine than to pay their drivers a living wage.

Not surprisingly, given the long waits and meager rewards, a lot of drivers have simply stopped showing up. According to Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of L.A., fully 30 percent of the port’s 12,000 drivers no longer show up on weekdays, a percentage that rises to 50 percent on weekends. Once the waits exceed six hours, as they now sometimes do, drivers would run the risk of exceeding the 11-hour federal limit on trucker workdays if they then were to actually get a load—which means the port must turn them away, and they’ll have spent an entire workday for no pay at all.
Posted by leighbythesea2 | Mon Feb 7, 2022, 09:25 PM (18 replies)
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