Over the course of the 100 bloody years that it took the U.S. labor movement to win the eight-hour workday, labor militants struck, rioted and were executed for what was then seen as an overly radical demand that would destabilize industry and ruin the economy.
Capitalism has undergone massive restructuring on a global scale, including the outsourcing [of] labor to other markets to keep costs down, the proliferation of extremely flexible, nonproductive work and new surveillance techniques in the workplace. While the labor movement has weakened almost to the point of extinction, the interests of capital are as robust as ever, albeit with a more friendly face.
In Asheville, local businesses are valorized as a more ethical form of capitalism. It might seem that local businesses are better than their alternatives. In reality, they can be as exploitative as non-local businesses. As convenient as it is to gloss over, the fundamental class relationship between owner and producer still prevails (wherein the owner tries to extract as much cheap labor as possible from the employee in order to maximize the production of value or capital). This doesn't make the owner a horrible person; unfortunately, these are the conditions of capitalism. As workers, it's important that we aren't fooled by the charade and protect the gains made by our predecessors.
It's regrettable that Kila Donovan had to be fired from her job at Buchi for us to be able to see local capitalism for what it really is: totally integrated with the globalized system of exploitation. It's embarrassing the way people, especially service workers, cheerlead for local business in this town, as though by their proximity, businesses can escape the ruthlessness of capital.
Ultimately, organizations like Just Economics serve to perpetuate wrongheaded thinking about small businesses by giving them a free pass to mistreat their workers, and then cry foul when their practices are called into question.
— Alice Zamboni