Wal-Mart


Labor Abuses behind what we eat Conditions are arguably even worse in the international fish industry. At Walmart, you can buy inexpensive bags of frozen crawfish and shrimp. As with clothing subcontractors, Walmart signs contracts with suppliers that provide shellfish at low cost. And as in the apparel industry, Walmart’s pressure for low prices means seafood suppliers squeeze every cent out of labor. In 2012, the Worker Rights Consortium issued a report excoriating Walmart for contracting with C.J.’s Seafood, a crawfish processer that brought guest workers from Mexico to its Louisiana processing facility. C.J.’s forced them to work sixteen to twenty-four-hour shifts and locked them in the plant. Workers were threatened with deportation if they complained. Despite these threats, a worker named Ana Rosa Diaz, who had left her four children at home in Tamaulipas, Mexico, to find work, called the National Guestworker Alliance and reported the conditions. This started a series of investigations, including by the U.S. Department of Labor. Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, said, “The extreme lengths of the shifts people were required to work, the employer’s brazenness in violating wage laws, the extent of the psychological abuse the workers faced and the threats of violence against their families—that combination made it one of the most egregious workplaces we’ve examined, whether here or overseas.” This pressure and bad publicity led Walmart to suspend the contract, but not to change its own labor practices or take any responsibility for the manufacturing of its products.

Fix Wal-Mart
Good Jobs First fighting the likes of Wal-Mart
Hel-Mart anti-Wal-Mart merchandise
Wake-Up Wal-Mart campaign to change Wal-Mart
New Study: Walmart Scammed American Taxpayers for $104 Million by Giving Executives Obscene Bonuses: The company is a parasite sucking the country dry. " Walmart used a tax loophole to get you and me to pay millions to executive fatcats in undeserved bonuses... you also fork over your tax dollars to maintain the company's system of low wages, which require Medicaid, food stamps, and other public assistance to sustain workers who do not earn enough to live on. Not to mention what you pay to maintain the roads and infrastructure Walmart uses to do business. Or what you pay to educate its workforce through public schools."
* Does Sex Work Beat Walmart Type Jobs? by Lynn Stuart Parramore. AlterNet, June 5, 2014. "The choice to do sex work mostly boils down to the bottom line."


Reviews of three books on Wal-Mart: The Bully of Bentonville: How the High Cost of Wal-Mart's Everyday Low Prices Is Hurting America, by Anthony Bianco; The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--And How It's Transforming the American Economy, by Charles Fishman; and, Company: A Novel, by Max Barry.

"Wal-Mart has long put store managers "under enormous pressure from headquarters to continually reduce labor costs as a percentage of sales... Wal-Mart is known for once having locked night-shift workers inside its stores and for also refusing workers breaks...

"The Wal-Mart effect... means... Wal-Mart's competitors have to lower prices once Wal-Mart enters a particular market; Wal-Mart "drains the viability of traditional local shopping areas"; Wal-Mart has ushered in the "relentless scrutiny of unnecessary costs" in manufacturing a product; and Wal-Mart has lowered wages at stores that try to compete with it...

"That perky smiley face that bops around in Wal-Mart commercials dropping the prices of familiar products would have us believe that low prices are somehow attained by a jaunty, magical process, but when Wal-Mart marks a product down, there are repercussions that many consumers seem only dimly aware of, like child labor. By the time that the unforgettable Kathie Lee Gifford child-labor scandal erupted in 1996, Wal-Mart had already stopped using the factory where Gifford's clothing line for the retailer was manufactured, but the damage had been done. Multinational corporations like Wal-Mart "don't want to have to explain dramatice, unsettling revelations about hiw the familiar products they sell manage to have such low prices"" (Clay Smith. "Wal-Mart Trilogy." Texas Observer, April 21, 2006: 26-29).


"Supermarkets all over the country have been lowering wages and decimating workers' health plans. Management claims these cutbacks are necessary to compete with Wal-Mart, but another explanation makes at least as much sense: "Greed," says Linda Gruen, a former Wal-Mart worker... "Management sees what Wal-Mart gets away with," she says, and realizes that the way to increase profits is to do the same...

"Wal-Mart's "way of thinking," its relentless focus on giving the customer the lowest price, "has become the norm," not just in retail but in all businesses. This can't be done without crushing labor.

"Because the consequences are so minimal, Wal-Mart does not hesitate to break the law in order to stay union-free. Indeed, as the.. handbook to managers notes frankly, during a union drive, "You.. are expected to support the company's position... This may mean walking a tightrope between legitimate campaigning and improper conduct." Wal-Mart has been found guilty of many violations of workers' rights to organize, even firing union sympathizers. But paying fines -- or in some cases, merely hanging a sign in the break room that states that the company violated workers' rights -- is for Wal-Mart simply part of the cost of doing business...

(Liza Featherstone. "Rollback Wages!" The Nation, June 28, 2004: 11-17).


"Wal-Mart has burgeoned into America's biggest grocer (and the country's largest employer) by paying its workers less, forcing distributors to lower their prices and charging prices 17 to 39 percent lower than unionized stores" (Marc Cooper. "Supermarket Showdown." The Nation, Jan. 12, 2004: 7-8).


"...Wal-Mart... got to be number 1 by paying poverty wages to its employees" (Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer. The Hightower Lowdown, May 2004: 4).


"At least 85 percent of Wal-Mart products are made overseas, most of those in China, under sweatshop conditions, by workers, mostly women, who lack the right to organize... Chinese workers make about fifty cents an hour...

"Americans are supporting Wal-Mart through tax breaks, subsidies, and state-funded health care.

"Public welfare is very cleary part of the retailer's cost-cutting strategy," she writes...

"In Wisconsin, Wal-Mart made front page news because the state provides health insurance for 3,765 people who are Wal-Mart employees or the spouses and children of Wal-Mart employees. The annual taspayer cost of paying for health care coverage for Wal-Mart employees and their families in Wisconsin is $4.75 million.

"In Georgia, 10,000 kids of Wal-Mart employees are in the state's health program, costing almost $10 million a year. According to a study by the Institute for Labor and Employment at the University of California-Berkeley, California taxpayers subsidized more than $20 million worth of health care costs for Wal-Mart" (Elizabeth DiNovella. "The True Costs of Low Prices." Progressive, January, 2005: 44-46)


"Wal-Mart's... its customers are overwhelmingly female, and struggling to make ends meet...

"Sam Walton's real genius. He figured out how to make money off of poverty... The only problem with the business model is that it really needs to create more poverty to grow. That problem is cleverly solved by creating more bad jobs worldwide...

"To make this model work, Wal-Mart must keep labor costs down. It does this by making corporate crime an integral part of its business strategy. Wal-Mart routinely violates laws protecting workers' organizing rights... It is a repeat offender on overtime laws... systematically discriminating against women in pay and promotions...

"Wal-Mart... threatens all American ideals that are at odds with profit -- ideals such as justice, equality and fairness... it hires lobbyists in Washington to vigorously fight any effor at such reforms" (Liza Featherstone. "Down and Out In Discount America." The Nation, Jan. 3, 2005: 11-15).


"Wal-Mart is the most patriotic flag-waving company in America... until you look under the flags... only 17 percent made-in-the-USA items" (Greg Palast. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. NY: Plume, 2003: 208).

"Wal-Mart.. used incarcerated gangs in Guandong to stitch t-shirts, breaking U.S. law... China is a prison economy... prison factories pay an effective wage of zero.. " (209).

"..the courts rejected Walton's plea for exemption from the U.S. minimum wage...

"When employee Kathleen Baker handed her store manager a petition from eighty workers hoping for a little raise.. she was fired on the spot for theft of the use of the company typewriter...

"In 1994, Linda Regalado was threatened with loss of her job if she continued to talk to fellow "associates" about their right to join a union. She persevered and Wal-Mart made good on its illegal threat...

"..the Fear Factor had become so widespread that the union had no choice but to abandon all hope...

"Wal-Mart [is] fulfilling my nastiest human desire for Cheap and Plenty...

"...Pine Barrens, the last scrap of woodland left on Long Island... Wal-Mart, despite a thousand urban alternatives, insisted on cutting up for its parking lots" (Greg Palast. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. NY: Plume, 2003: 212).


"Wal-mart hopes to defeat its opponents by exploiting their racial divisions...

"...the company launched walmartfacts.com, a website to counter criticism of the kind... misleading information intended to make Wal-Mart's wages and benefits sound much better than they are, the new campaign materials feature many smiling African-American faces; the website explains, accurately, that Wal-Mart is a "leading employer" of Hispanics and African-Americans.

"As Jesse Jackson and other black leaders have pointed out in response to this boast, the slave plantation was once a "leading employer" of African-Americans as well...

"...Wal-Mart...ad features smilling African-Americans giving glowing testimony to what Wal-Mart has done for the "community."... The company also takes out ads in black newspapers... and radio spots during Sunday-morning gospel hour. And Wal-Mart celebrates Black History Month...

"Much like that of the Bush Administration, Wal-Mart's image-making strategy includes not only advertising but paying for positive media coverage from black journalists. This year the company will begin awarding scholarships to minority journalism students at Howard, Columbia and elsewhere--a worthy use of Wal-Mart's funds, given that people of color are underrepresented in this profession, but a rather transparent move to buy off potential critics...

"Wal-Mart underwrites Tavis Smiley's popular television talk show in Los Angeles, and Smiley returned the favor last year when, during the heated battle in Inglewood, he invited Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott on the air for a fawning interview, taking no calls...

"Wal-Mart gave money to black churches, community groups and politicians. Wal-Mart courted Emma Mitts, an African-American alderwoman representing Chicago's West Side, and found her easily seduced. Mitts became a strident advocate for the retailer...

"Many black community activists were appalled that black leaders were so easily bought off. "I was ashamed to be black!" says Elce Redmond... describing how the clergy and elites rolled over...

""Wal-Mart played the race card." The company told the city's black leaders that the unions fighting the retailer were racist, effectively exploiting existing racial tensions in the city. As elsewhere, the building trades unions in Chicago have historically discriminated against blacks. But it is service unions like the Service Employees International that are speaking out the most against Wal-Mart, and in cities, their membership is mostly people of color. "[Wal-Mart] knew what buttons to push," Redmond acknowledges, but he's outraged that so many black leaders bought the simplistic line that all unions are racist. "I've never seen so much ignorance. They had no sense at all of the history of African-Americans in unions... So they're going to side with the corporate enslaver...

"Thindwa says, "Wal-Mart was able to paint this white unions protecting their turf, instead of as a broad-based community issue".... "The media framed it as "white labor versus the black community." We were not able to change the frame...

[Note from Colby -- the answer to framing is to read Alternative News Sources which exposes the branding effect.] "Another helpful issue was crime--Wal-Mart is the nation's leading purveyor if guns. To rural white communities, that's often a political asset, but to urban black voters it's a harsh liability... the anti-Wal-Mart coalition hung a flier in the shape of an M-16 rifle on everybody's door... "it had a powerful impact"...

"Wal-Mart made a lot of promises, and hasn't delivered.' Politicains and community leaders are now finding that since Wal-Mart secured permission to open the West Side store, its officials aren't returning their calls too readily" (Liza Featherstone. "Race to the Bottom." The Nation, March 28, 2005: 16-20).


"The profits of Wal-Mart are... bigger than the economies of Mozambique and Ghana combined.

""We are concerned that the growth of supermarkets in developing countries is really undermining the fight against poverty," said Dominic Eagleton, policy researcher for ActionAid. "Increasing their market power has managed to drain the wealth from farming communities and marginalised small-scale producers"" (Mark Townsend. "Tesco in row over foreign workers." Guardian Weekly, April 15-21, 2005: 14).


"With its stock gone flat and bad publicity in virtually every news cycle Wal-Mart is feeling pretty defensive these days. Among recent company missteps are fines and monetary settlements for hiring illegal immigrants and allowing underage employees to operate heavy machinery...

"...Wal-Mart's myriad transgressions includes "union busting, labor law violations, shipping jobs overseas, artificially suppressing wages, financial improprieties by a top corporate officer and links to a powerful Chinese businessman allegedly involved in the weapons-trading arm of the People's Liberation Army."...

"Robert Greenwald, the Hollywood producer/director-turned documentary filmmaker (2004's Outfoxed; Uncovered, 2003), is now aiming his investigative lens at Wal-Mart's gargantuan global empire. Greenwald's company, Brave New Films, is scheduled to release Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price in November...

"Greenwald has been investigating Wal-Mart for months, keeping the project under the radar until now. Despite the myth that Wal-Mart is the patriotic embodiment of small-town values in its efforts to provide low prices to consumers, Greenwald asserts the opposite. ""This is the largest corporation in the world, and it is running roughshod over family business and workers throughout the country," he says. "This is an issue that cuts across the traditional partisan divide. My film will reflect the diversity of people who are being subjected to the Wal-Mart steamroller, and the ways they are fighting back and winning."" (Don Hazen. "Turning Up the Heat on Wal-Mart." AlterNet. Posted June 1, 2005).


"Wal-Mart is the model "low-road" corporation in the global economy. The average pay of a Wal-Mart employee is $8.23 per hour, or a yearly income of $14,000 -- not enough to lift a family out of poverty. When Wal-Mart comes to town, it purposefully wipes out small mom-and-pop stores, leaving small towns looking like they were hit by a neutron bomb -- buildings intact, but people gone.

"Wal-Mart also exploits taxpayers, for it lives off of public welfare. Wal-Mart's relentless expansion has been fueled by state and local tax subsidies totaling at least $1 billion -- and that just includes the deals exposed by the press. On healthcare, Wal-Mart passes the buck to taxpayers too. It refuses to provide healthcare to over 600,000 of its employees and, instead, directs them to enroll in public healthcare programs. And, in China, Wal-Mart pushes its suppliers to lower their costs, proliferating sweatshops in which young workers -- primarily women -- are forced to work grotesque hours at subsistence wages.

"The hidden high costs of Wal-Mart's deceptive "low price" image must be challenged...

"Across America, people are starting to realize the stark reality: Wal-Mart's triumph is the defeat of middle-class America. If Wal-Mart sets the pace, Americans will pay the price, in declining wages, rising healthcare costs, longer hours, declining workplace conditions and rising personal taxes to offset soaring corporate subsidies. America as we know it can't afford Wal-Mart" (Robert Borosage. "Target Wal-Mart." email message, 11-17-05).


"... city after city--from New England to California--have been rejecting Wal-Mart's attempts to bulldoze its way into their communities, specifically rejecting Wal-Mart's low-wage, anti-worker, anti-neighborhood, predatory business practices...

"Before you weep for Wal-Mart, consider that it raked in more than $10 billion in declared profits last year and that its competitors pay up to three times the Wal-Mart wage--and still make a nice profit" (Jim Hightower. "Weep for Poor Wal-Mart." Progressive Populist, May 1, 2005: 3).


""American Unchained," a campaign created by the American Independent Business Alliance. Unchained and the growing network of Independent Business Alliances seek to go beyond damage control to persuade people to keep their dollars recirculating in their local economy rather than sending them to distant corporate headquarters.

"In my home of Montana, citizens of Plentywood, Malta and Glandive all recently decided they had no need to lure a big-box store or drive out of town to shop. Instead, they retooled the corporate model of pooling investments in order to build community-owned and -operated department stores. These are true anti-Wal-Marts in many ways, promoting democracy, community stability and cohesiveness. All of the profit goes to the locals who invested in themselves and their neighbors...

"Citizens in these places aren't buying the defeatist mentality of accepting Target or Kmart as the "better alternative." They've recognized that communities are perfectly capable of meeting their needs without depending on absentee-owned businesses" (Jeff Milchen. "Beyond Wal-Mart." The Progressive Populist, Dec. 15, 2005: 2, 10).


"...city after city--from New England to California--have been rejecting Wal-Mart's attempts to bulldoze its way into their communities, specifically rejecting Wal-Mart's low-wage, anti-worker, anti-neighborhood, predatory business practices...

"Before you weep for Wal-Mart, consider that it raked in more than $10 billion in delcared profits last year and that its competitors pay up to three times the Wal-Mart wage--and still make a nice profit" (Jim Hightower. "Weep for Poor Wal-Mart." Populist Progressive, May 1, 2005: 3).


"WAL-MART'S NEW FRONT MAN. Someone take up a collection, go to Wal-Mart, and buy a clue for Andy Young. This former civil rights worker, union organizer, mayor, Congress critter, and UN ambassador has now become a front man for--grab your socks--Wal-Mart! Yes, the retailing behemoth known and reviled for its poverty-wages, miserly benefits, discrimination against women, third-world sweatshop goods, and predatory tactics to crush small business. This is the outfit that Andy Young now works for, serving as chairman of "Working Families for Wal-Mart," a new PR front to polish the thoroughly tarnished image of this abusive giant...

""Wal-Mart is generating new wealth when it comes [in to a town]," he asserts. Hogwash. Wal-Mart merely diverts sales from local businesses and then extracts that wealth from our communities, hauling it back to corporate headquarters. Nor does Wal-Mart create jobs for local economies. Its stores employ fewer workers per dollar of sales than do the local retailers it displaces" (Jim Hightower. "Mr. President, Greenland is Melting." Texas Observer, March 24, 2006: 15).


"But higher environmental standards are not enough. Wal-Mart, the $256bn-a-year retailer that operates 5,000 mainly giant stores in 10 countries, has recently pledged to massively reduce its energy emissions. But the second-largest employer in the US after the government is still considered one of the least responsible in the world, accused of driving the intensification of farming, urban sprawl, low wages and car dependency, as well, it is said, as undermining the manufacturing base of the US by buying almost all its products from places such as China" (John Vidal. "Seizing the sustainability agenda." Guardian Weekly, April 28, 2006: 3).


Colby Glass, MLIS