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Art Pope pickets aim to expose the "Poverty Creator"

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Sounding the alarm about a low-wage retail, big-money political empire

North Carolina has its very own Koch Brother (by another mother), and his name is Art Pope, whom Gov. McCrory appointed as state Budget Director earlier this year.

Rev. Barber @ncnaacp: Art Pope is not just a private citizen. As budget dir., he works for us.

— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) December 2, 2013


Pope makes his money operating a chains of discount retailers like Roses and Maxway, both owned by his family company, Variety Wholesalers.

In addition to giving directly to candidates and funneling money through other organizations to support the political campaigns of right-wing state politicians, Pope spends the family fortune he inherited and the millions of dollars these stores earn him to prop up stink tanks like the John Locke Foundation and Civitas and to fund corporate front groups like Americans for Prosperity North Carolina.

These organizations and Pope's bought politicians have embarked on a successful campaign this year to restrict voting rights, reject access affordable health care, cut unemployment benefits, defund and privatize public education, lower taxes on the rich and profitable corporations, and, generally speaking, turn the clock back 50 years in North Carolina.

Moral Monday protest sign

Moral Monday protest sign

Yet many people who shop at or live in the communities served by Roses and Maxway stores have no idea how the man who owns those stores spends his money to keep people poor.

Informational Pickets

Working together in coalition with the North Carolina NAACP, Democracy North Carolina, Action North Carolina, and others in the burgeoning "Forward Together" Movement, we at the North Carolina State AFL-CIO and our affiliated local unions are sounding the alarm about Art Pope. "The pickets have generated media attention across North Carolina, as well as  national coverage in outlets like MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," writes Chris Kromm for the Institute for Southern Studies publication, Facing South.
"As Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, told Maddow: What we see with Art Pope is the most lewd and cynical and sinister form of wealth and power manipulation. To put your stores deliberately and publicly in communities of low wealth and 25 percent African-American, make your wealth off of people, pay them low wages, and then in turn use that power to push and promote policies that are adverse to their lives and diametrically opposed to their future, is just untenable."
Proud to stand w/@ncnaacp@democracync@Action_NC to tell truth about Art Pope's low-wage empire. — NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) December 2, 2013
  Since December 2nd, we have held informational pickets outside Roses and Maxway stores in Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, and, earlier today, in Goldsboro.
Think Art Pope's Maxway is nice? Think twice! Goldsboro got the msg: — NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) December 13, 2013
  The picketers are not calling for a boycott of Art Pope-owned stores. The purpose is to inform the communities surrounding these stores, North Carolina, and the nation about the ways that Art Pope uses his money to hurt the very people who work and shop at his stores. More pickets will be held this weekend - in Fayetteville and Belmont on Saturday (12/14) and in Weaverville on Sunday (12/15). When: Saturday, December 14, 2013 at Noon Where: Roses, 605 Park St., Belmont NC 28012 (at corner of Park St. and Highway 74) Who: UAW 5285, AFL-CIO, NAACP When: Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 1:00 PM Where: Roses, 125 Morganton Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28314 (Westwood Mall) Who: Democracy NC, UFCW Local 1208, Greater Sandhills Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the NAACP When: Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM Where: Roses, 165 Weaver Blvd., Weaverville, NC 28787Who: Just Economics, Western NC Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the NAACP Interested in holding an informational picket about Art Pope's low-wage retail and big-money political empire? Send Adam an email to [email protected]. We can help you with signs, handouts for customers and other passersby, talking points, media outreach, and permits. See what the handout looks like: (English) and (Spanish). Learn more about Art Pope at Read more about the picket campaign.