Advisory for December 15, 2013
Contact: Vicki Meath, Just Economics Executive Director, 828-505-7466; Jeremy Sprinkle, NC State AFL-CIO Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 336-255-2711
PICKETS OF ART POPE’S LOW-WAGE RETAIL, BIG-MONEY POLITICAL EMPIRE SPREAD TO WEAVERVILLE
Residents will hold info picket outside Roses in Weaverville this Sunday at 3:00 PM
(WEAVERVILLE, NC) – On December 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM, local residents will hold an informational picket outside the Roses on Weaver Blvd. in Weaverville as part of the NC NAACP and Forward Together Movement’s Art Pope informational picket campaign. They will hand out information on Budget Director and Roses-owner Art Pope and the extremist and regressive Legislative policies he supports. These policies hurt the very people who franchise his stores and supply a large share of his income.
What: Informational picket about Art Pope’s low-wage retail and big-money political empire
When: Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Where: Roses, 165 Weaver Blvd., Weaverville, NC 28787
Who: Just Economics, Western NC Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the NAACP, and the “Forward Together” Movement
Why: Roses customers and the community have a right to know what Roses-owner Art Pope is doing to keep people poor and powerless in Weaverville
Visuals: A dozen or more Weaverville-area residents handing off flyers to Roses customers; signs and banners explaining how Art Pope uses his retail empire to push his right-wing political agenda
See what the flyer looks like: http://bit.ly/18XbKv5 (English) and http://bit.ly/18XbDQ8 (Spanish)
The Art Pope informational picket campaign began on December 2nd as a statewide effort to raise awareness across North Carolina and demand that Art Pope support the request for a “Special Redemption Session” of the North Carolina General Assembly to reverse course on two extremist policies, the denial of Medicaid and emergency unemployment benefits that will harm the most vulnerable members of our state.
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.
Learn more at www.ArtPopeExposed.com.
Background: Art Pope owns Variety Wholesalers Incorporated, a discount retail chain that includes Roses and Maxway and several smaller discount stores. These stores are located in over 65 cities across North Carolina in working class and minority neighborhoods. These communities are responsible for the millions of dollars that Art Pope and Variety Wholesalers Inc. earn each year. These communities have been good to Art Pope. However, Art Pope has not been a good neighbor or friend to these communities.
Art Pope is the Budget Director for North Carolina and supporter and architect of many of the extremist policies and laws that were adopted by the NC General Assembly in 2013. Pope has shown little compassion or concern for the well-being and fair treatment of women, people of color, working people, and the poor. He has supported the attacks on voting rights, denial of the expansion of Medicaid to 500,000 people, cuts in unemployment benefits to 170,000 people, and many other regressive, mean-spirited policies. The budget that he crafted includes cuts to public education, mental health services, and programs and funds for minority and poor communities. The people of North Carolina need to know who Art Pope is and where he stands on issues that impact them. The informational picket campaign is calling on Art Pope to be a good neighbor.
According to Variety Wholesalers’ own website, Pope’s stores target areas with a median household income of $40,000 or less and at least 25% African-American population. These consumers often have little idea that the store’s profits are being used to fund an extremist influence network that promotes restrictions on voting rights, opposes labor standards, and favors weakening environmental protections.
In 2010 and 2012, three groups backed by Pope – Americans for Prosperity, Civitas Action and Real Jobs NC – spent nearly $3.5 million benefiting candidates in state elections. In 2010, 75% of outside spending in N.C. state house and senate races came from Pope-backed groups, fueling the extremist and regressive capture of the state legislature. On top of that, Pope and his close family members gave more than $450,000 to the Republican Party and GOP candidates in the last two election cycles.
In 2012, Art Pope’s family contributed $16,000 to Pat McCrory’s gubernatorial campaign and $125,000 to the N.C. Republican Party, which campaigned for McCrory. Outside spending groups affiliated with Pope spent another $496,560 benefiting McCrory’s campaign. Soon after the election, Pope was appointed first to McCrory’s transition team, then to one of the most powerful positions in the governor’s cabinet: Budget Director.
The John William Pope Foundation, of which Art Pope is chairman, supplies more than 85% of the income of the leading groups pushing his elite, right-wing agenda in North Carolina. These groups include the Civitas Institute, the John Locke Foundation, and the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Key members of Pope’s group have found their way into the halls of state power, including Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief of staff.
Art Pope is a close ally of the billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch, and is a regular invitee of the Koch’s secretive national gatherings of wealthy political operatives. The Pope Foundation funds many of the same right-wing groups at the Kochs. Pope has been a national leader of the Koch-supported group Americans for Prosperity, and Pope’s family foundation is the second-largest backer of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
Art Pope personally helped draw a set of racially discriminatory maps for new General Assembly and Congressional districts which packed African-American voters into a small number of districts, weakened their political influence in the state, and maximized Republican control.
The North Carolina State AFL-CIO is the largest association of local unions and union councils in North Carolina, representing over one-hundred thousand union members, fighting for good jobs, safe workplaces, workers’ rights, consumer protections, and quality public services on behalf of ALL working families. PO Box 10805, Raleigh, NC 27605.