Nader on WalMart
Source Dan Scanlan
Date 04/08/25/23:29

The Truth About Wal-Mart

Here's food for thought: over the course of this year, a new or expanded Wal-Mart outlet will open in the United States every 29 hours. Boasting 3,600 outlets to date across the country, Wal-Mart continues to embrace a breakneck rate of expansion. The retailer's executives certainly see the sky as the limit. Atop the Fortune 500, with fiscal year 2004 revenues of $258.7 billion, Wal-Mart shows no sign of slowing. Every month its real-estate gurus sign off on another billion-dollar purchase. The business press waxes eloquent on just how much longer Wal-Mart's current growth trends can last. It's the great American success story all over again.

Yet amid the lip service to Wal-Mart's predominance within and over the retail world, mounting criticisms of the company's practices are raising alarming questions. Thanks to the efforts of investigative journalists, labor unions, public interest research groups, fed-up citizens, and a commendable few in Congress, Americans are increasingly seeing a darker side to Wal-Mart's success. In totum, this evidence points to one ominous conclusion. By its runaway growth, parasitic business model, and derelict labor practices, Wal-Mart embodies a uniquely virulent degeneration of American corporate culture. Nader/Camejo 2004 believes this year's electoral debate must include a frank discussion of Wal-Mart's problematic methods and encourage broad public dialogue on the surest means of effectively challenging the "Beast from Bentonville."

When Wal-Mart Comes To Town

Sales tax rebates, tax increment financing, free or discounted land, tax-exempt bond financing, infrastructure assistance, state corporate income tax credits, enterprise zone status, public funds for employee recruitment and training, property tax breaks-you might not expect to find such a wide variety of state and local subsidies being doled out to the largest corporation on the planet. Nevertheless, if a de facto property tax abatement of $46 million for a Wal-Mart distribution center in Sharon Springs, NY is any indication, Wal-Mart's message would seem to be: expect the unexpected. According to a report from Good Jobs First (GJF), Shopping for Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance its Never-Ending Growth, Wal-Mart's aggressive expansion has been the beneficiary of nearly $1 billion in total state and local subsidies-at the very least. Shopping for Subsidies identified almost 250 such incidences, including subsidies for over 90% of Wal-Mart distribution centers-integral staging points for the retailer's future growth capability.

In all, GJF identified subsidy packages for 84 of Wal-Mart's 91 distribution centers (with an average value of $6.9 million) and 160 Wal-Mart stores benefiting from some form of public assistance. With respect to the stores-most of which GJF identified by searching electronic newspaper archives-69 received industrial revenue bond subsidies (averaging $2 million) and 91 received at least one form of public assistance (averaging $2.7 million). The report's broader implications are staggering. To quote Shopping for Subsidies' "Note to Readers":

We do not contend that our results represent a comprehensive history of the subsidies that Wal-Mart has received in connection with its retail stores. Given the limited disclosure requirements and the uncertainty or unavailability of media coverage, it is safe to assume that there have been many more subsidies that did not come to our attention. ...[We] are confident that the true total of Wal-Mart's retail subsidies is much higher based on the company's own words. ...The $1 billion figure we cite for total public assistance to Wal-Mart may very well be the tip of the iceberg.1 {emphasis added}

The likelihood that 1,000 Wal-Mart retail projects have been financed by taxpayer dollars is troubling enough-after all, just what does a corporation that banked $9 billion dollars' profit last year need with public financing and subsidies? However, when one takes into consideration the local economic impact of a Wal-Mart outlet's arrival, the propriety of the company's solicitation of public financing appears all the more dubious. In a recent study of big-box retail's impact on local communities, commissioned by the Los Angeles Community Development Department, the urban consulting outfit Rodino Associates notes:

With whatever area is determined to be the trade area for consumers of a particular community, it is consumption and consumer spending that determines the level of retail sales generated in the trade area. If a new store of any particular nature locates within that trade area[,] consumer spending...will be merely redistributed from wherever consumers had been spending to the new store. ...The trade area may shrink in size[,] reflecting the locational convenience provided by the new retailer, with shoppers needing to travel shorter distances. Overall retail sales, however, will remain essentially unchanged.2

When a Wal-Mart comes into a new area, it brings with it the potential to outperform its competition on every level. Due to the unmatched depth of its offerings, Wal-Mart can stand to selectively under-price its competition on "statement" items to lure people into its outlets. Of course, once a customer sets foot inside an outlet, Wal-Mart's seemingly limitless mass of bargains radiates a seductive aura of convenience. Price slash after price slash, Wal-Mart conditions its clientèle to worry less and less about the long-term repercussions of failing to think outside the "box." Tear the lid off any one of these buildings and it would not be difficult to picture the bygone electronics store, clothier, grocer, jeweler, toy-seller, and other independent retailers-the very same independent retailers Americans like to imagine decorating Main Street USA-all housed within a single antiseptic simulacrum, designed to harness our consumer dollars.

Wal-Mart's expansion efforts are increasingly tapping into not only uncharted geographic territory but also uncharted market territory, namely with its Supercenters.

Developed in 1988 to meet the growing demand for one-stop family shopping, Wal-Mart Supercenters...are open 24 hours a day for the ultimate in convenience. ...In addition to general merchandise, Supercenters feature bakery goods, deli foods, frozen foods, meat and dairy products, and fresh produce. Supercenters also are home to many specialty shops such as vision centers, Tire & Lube Expresses, Radio Grill restaurants, portrait studios and one-hour photo centers, hair salons, banks, and employment agencies. Supercenters...offer 100,000 different items, 30,000 of which are grocery products.3

As of January 31st of this year, 1,471 Supercenters peppered the continent. Of the roughly 300 new or expanded domestic openings Wal-Mart plans for FY 2005, the lion's share (230 to 240) will be Supercenters. 2004 will be remembered as the year that the number of Wal-Mart's Supercenters eclipsed that of its smaller discount outlets (1,478). This aspect of Wal-Mart's growth is particularly significant. From March 1st, 1988, when Wal-Mart's first Supercenter opened in Washington, Missouri, Supercenters multiplied at a pace of 30 per year, from zero to 239 (in January 1996). Since then, that growth rate has quintupled. Not only are Wal-Mart's big-box outfits steadily multiplying, the boxes themselves are getting bigger. Domestically, Wal-Mart's discount stores peaked in number (1,995) eight years ago, thereafter disappearing at a rate of of 65 per year. These comparatively smaller outlets are either abandoned or converted into Supercenters. Averaging 186,000 square feet, a Wal-Mart Supercenter covers four football fields, nearly double that of a discount outlet. These bigger, bolder consumer emporiums present a genuine threat to the livelihood of many smaller retail operations unfortunate enough to lie within competitive proximity.

By design, a Wal-Mart Supercenter enables John or Jane Q. Customer to satisfy every conceivable consumer want in a single outing-to the severe detriment of small businesses close enough to suffer from the consequent commercial fallout. Never mind that the range of retail services on offer in one Supercenter is roughly equivalent to that of a thriving town center; Wal-Mart's business practices exhibit a clear willingness to sacrifice the character of Main Street to the benchmarks of Wall Street. On the other hand, when Wal-Mart vacates a location-often as a result of market saturation practices that have successfully eliminated competition between proximate Wal-Mart stores-the site can lie fallow indefinitely. In the words of the most recent annual review from Sprawl-Busters:

Like a snake crawling out of its skin, Wal-Mart leaves these stores as a monument to redundant development. As of February, 2004, Wal-Mart Realty is looking to lease or sell a total of 371 buildings, comprising 28,448,240 square feet of buildings, or 653 acres of empty buildings. Each store comes with at least as much parking lot space, so a minimum of 1,306 acres of land covered with impervious surface. Our scan shows that Wal-Mart now has empty stores in 37 states. Roughly half (49.9%) of these buildings, 185 stores, have been on the market for at least 2 years, and 21% (78 stores) have been sitting empty for 5 years or longer. Just about one-third of these buildings, 117 stores (31.5%) are over 100,000 s.f. in size.4

It's worth noting that, despite the flash-based advertisements on Wal-Mart Realty's Corporate Web-Site, touting "the potential to become absolutely anything,"5 one thing Wal-Mart isn't interested in doing is allowing the lifeless husks of its defunct retail outlets to be used by its competition. According to Sprawl-Busters, "Wal-Mart's letter of intent to lease a store requires the lessee to pledge not to use the premises for a discount store."6

Mom & Pop outfits may have greater cause for alarm; but independent retailers aren't the only businesses facing significant woes in the wake of a Wal-Mart arrival. Long infamous for its staunch anti-union policies, the company possesses unrivaled power to dictate even its worthiest competition's labor practices. The increasing presence of Wal-Mart Supercenters in California has sent grocery chains in the state scrambling to battle stations for fights with their (unionized) employees over wages and benefits. The stakes for all involved couldn't be higher; but, by some measures, the vice has already been cast. With a combined $103.2 billion in 2003 grocery sales from its Supercenters and Sam's Club subsidiary, Wal-Mart outperformed its closest competition (Kroger's 53.6 billion) by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1. Given that grocery sales are an area of retail for which profit margins have dipped to less than a penny for every dollar of sales7, Wal-Mart's growth in the retail food arena is on pace to give it a majority market share within five years' time.

Wal-Mart's Labor Pains

With 1.3 million domestic employees, Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the country. According to Wal-Mart's corporate website, its employees are imbued with a sense of mission-roving the product aisles brimming with "respect for the individual," providing top-notch "service to our customers," mindful to "strive for excellence"-embodying at every turn Sam Walton's "beliefs" trifecta and the corporate maxim, "Our people make the difference." Scratch below the surface, however, and it's plain that nothing is more important to the Bentonville executives than the bottom line. Wal-Mart's employees are forced to grapple every day with the "difference" between the company's PR script and the harsh reality of its retail working environments. Wal-Mart's "Associate" workers may be making a difference, but that doesn't mean they're making ends meet.

In a recent Congressional report, Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart, the Democratic staff of the House of Representatives' Committee on Education and the Workforce estimates an average salary range for a Wal-Mart "Associate" worker of between $7.50 and $8.50 per hour. With managers operating on instructions from the corporate brass to keep overhead at a bare minimum, Wal-Mart employees have "an average on-the-clock workweek of 32 hours."8 Since 2002, when Wal-Mart's definition of part-time employment changed to include anyone working fewer than 34 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, the cost burden of employee benefits coverage has shifted considerably onto the employees themselves. According to the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW):

Most Wal-Mart employees cannot afford to pay the expensive premiums and deductibles required for coverage. The average worker would have to pay one fifth of his paycheck for health care coverage at Wal-Mart. On a wage of about $8 an hour and 29-32 hours of work a week, many workers must rely on state programs or family members or simply live without health insurance.9

Full-time employees wait six months before becoming eligible to enroll in an Associate worker's health plan. For part-time employees the wait is four times as as long; after two years' work, these employees qualify only for individual coverage. According to an October 2003 AFL-CIO report, these prohibitive eligibility policies are a natural outgrowth of Wal-Mart's cost-cutting priorities.

These waiting periods are particularly important for holding down the company's health {costs} because turnover rates appear to be very high among hourly Wal-Mart store employees. At some stores, turnover may well be more than 100 percent per year.10

The kindest available estimates indicate merely 46 percent of non-managerial Wal-Mart employees are actually insured by a company health plan. Far from going the extra mile to make health care accessible to its workforce, Wal-Mart leaves many of its uninsured or under-insured employees with little recourse but to seek outside assistance for a wide array of uncovered services.

Such policies would be unthinkable if Wal-Mart employees possessed real power to unionize. Wal-Mart's corporate answer, for all to see on its web site, is as follows:

At Wal-Mart, we respect the individual rights of our associates and encourage them to express their ideas, comments and concerns. Because we believe in maintaining an environment of open communications, we do not believe there is a need for third-party representation.11

That is, excepting the third-party better known as the Wal-Mart corporation, representing company executives and managers. This benign posturing cloaks an insidious underlying truth: Wal-Mart does everything within its power to thwart employee efforts to assert their rights in an organized manner. The National Labor Relations Act(NLRA), which protects the right of American workers in the private sector to organize, has no sovereignty beyond the automatic doors of a Wal-Mart outlet. According to the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU):

Wal-Mart stores routinely violate the legal rights of their employees that try to organize into a labour union. Since 1995, the government has issued at least 60 complaints alleging illegal anti-union activities. However until now the maximum penalty Wal-Mart has incurred by its illegal conduct has been a requirement to post notices in various stores that it will no longer threaten employees who engage in "concerted activity", deny their right to organize, require employees to report their contacts with unions, or discipline or fire workers who engage in concerted activity.12

Slaps on the wrist do little to deter Wal-Mart from engaging in zero-tolerance anti-union practices. Wal-Mart has even gone so far as to cut off its nose to spite its face. Shortly after a group of butchers in a Jacksonville, Texas Wal-Mart meat-cutting department successfully unionized in 2000, Wal-Mart announced the discontinuation of all of its meat-cutting operations in 180 stores. Of course, there is method to Wal-Mart's madness. The use of absurd tactics to sidestep union precedents betrays the retailer's a shrewd cunning on the part of the retailer. Wal-Mart understands that far more than wages and benefits are at stake with respect to the union question. The absence of third-party representation makes every Wal-Mart outlet a potential breeding ground for a slew of corporate malpractices. In fact, Wal-Mart's reputation for workplace discrimination is growing almost as fast as its market share.

Whether you're a woman, a minor, disabled, or an undocumented immigrant, Wal-Mart seems to know all the best ways to take advantage of you. Wal-Mart's obsession with keeping wage-related costs down consistently has run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Consider the following litany of legal action taken against Wal-Mart, as indexed by Everyday Low Wages:

While wages are low at Wal-Mart, too often employees are not paid at all. ...As of December 2002, there were thirty-nine class action lawsuits against the company in thirty states, claiming tens of millions of dollars in back pay for hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees.13

Apparently it's not good enough for Wal-Mart to subject its employees low wages and burdensome benefits packages. In its incessant push to drive operating costs lower-a full 20% lower than retail industry averages-Wal-Mart exhibits a willful disregard for its employees welfare. The Wal-Mart name has become synonymous with class-action lawsuits. Even so, the reparations Wal-Mart has to make for its numerous violations of the FLSA, NLRA, OSHAct, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are a drop in the bucket compared to the impact best practices would have on the bottom line. So long as the cost of going to court pales that of faithfully observing internationally accepted labor standards, Wal-Mart will continue to break the law.

One of the more startling indicators of Wal-Mart's categorical disregard for its employees' needs is the extent to which its policies drive workers to seek out public welfare. According to Everyday Low Wages, 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $420,750 per year - about $2,103 per employee. Specifically, the low wages result in the following additional public costs being passed along to taxpayers:

$36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
$42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at $6,700 per family.
$125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children.
$100,000 a year for the additional Title I expenses, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of 2 children.
$108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP), assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualify.
$9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.14

In Georgia, one of 25 states where Wal-Mart happens to be the largest employer, over 10,261 children of Wal-Mart employees were recently found to be enrolled in the state's Peachcare program, which provides low-cost health insurance coverage to Georgia minors in families meeting federal poverty criteria. Six percent of Peachcare's September 2002 rolls (totalling 166,00 cases) were children from Wal-Mart families, blowing away the enrollment level of the next highest private employer, Publix (734 children).15

"Supplier Blindside" Economics

Say what you want to about Wal-Mart, one thing is certain: when it comes to pinching pennies for profit margins, Wal-Mart is an equal opportunity offender. What goes for the retailer's internal operations goes double for its dealings with suppliers. With its unrivaled purchasing power, Wal-Mart wields despotic influence over its suppliers' practices. According to a December 2003 article in the business monthly Fast Company,

For many suppliers...the only thing worse than doing business with Wal-Mart may be not doing business with Wal-Mart. Last year, 7.5 cents of every dollar spent in any store in the United States (other than auto-parts stores) went to the retailer. That means a contract with Wal-Mart can be critical even for the largest consumer-goods companies. Dial Corp., for example, does 28% of its business with Wal-Mart. If Dial lost that one account, it would have to double its sales to its next nine customers just to stay even.16

Though it may not occur to shoppers at the point of purchase, dynamics like this are arguably the iron rule in Wal-Mart's 21,000 global supply "relationships". Wal-Mart's publicly professed aim-to make as wide an array of products available to the greatest number of consumers at the "lowest possible prices"-demands that its suppliers fall in line with the Wal-Mart business model. The repercussions of losing Wal-Mart's business can be so devastating on a supplier as to sink it altogether. Those companies that manage to toe Wal-Mart's corporate line often find themselves forced to make compromises along the way-the sort that entail opening up a brand new sweatshop in China, Bangladesh, Honduras, or whatever export processing zone is bending over backwards furthest. A recent series of investigative reports by the Los Angeles Times, illustrating the depth and scope of the "Wal-Mart Effect," notes that

As late as 1995, Wal-Mart said imports accounted for no more than 6% of its products. Today, consulting firm Retail Forward estimates that 50% to 60% of the merchandise in the company's U.S. stores is imported.17

While Wal-Mart is quick to repeat the mantra that it requires its suppliers to adhere to a "Code of Conduct," it keeps the identities and locations of its overseas suppliers under tight wraps. With Wal-Mart acting as de facto regulator of its suppliers' practices, the retailer's reluctance to embrace transparency appears all the more dubious. As highlighted by a recent investigative report in the Washington Post, the breadth of Wal-Mart's use of China-based suppliers offers an insight into the unprincipled roguery of the multinational monarch.

The {Chinese} Communist Party government has become perhaps the world's greatest facilitator of capitalist production, beckoning multinational giants with tax-free zones and harsh punishment for anyone with designs on organizing a labor movement.

More than 80 percent of the 6,000 factories in Wal-Mart's worldwide database of suppliers are in China. Wal-Mart estimates it spent $15 billion on Chinese-made products last year, accounting for nearly one-eighth of all Chinese exports to the United States. If the company that Sam Walton built with his "Made in America" ad campaign were itself a separate nation, it would rank as China's fifth-largest export market, ahead of Germany and Britain.18{emphasis added}

Imagine, capitalist Wal-Mart using a Commuist dictatorship as its anti-labor rights enforcer. With the blessing of international trade agreements that conveniently fail to provide adequate protections to overseas workers, Wal-Mart acts as a chief culprit in the dehumanizing exploitation of third-world economies and steady degeneration of the American manufacturing base. Wal-Mart didn't invent offshore outsourcing, but it knows better than anyone how to capitalize on the phenomenon.

Fighting Back

Whether or not you've looked closely at them before, numerous challenges to Wal-Mart's practices have sprouted up in recent years. Indeed, attacking Wal-Mart has evolved into something of a cottage industry. Books such as Bill Quinn's How Wal-Mart is Destroying America and The World and What You Can Do About It and Al Norman's The Case Against Wal-Mart make no bones about their bent toward the "Bentonville Beast." Any glance through the archives of the country's foremost progressive publications will be enough to keep you in a month's worth of disturbing reading material. Wal-Mart's place atop the vaunted Fortune 500 makes it a lightning rod for anti-corporate sloganeering, prime fodder for the ongoing war of words. Given the passion with which many pundits have come to embrace Anti-Wal-Mart screeds, it may be tempting to dismiss their inflammatory rhetoric as so much partisan bluster. However, to do so would be to lose sight of the true stakes involved in Wal-Mart's ongoing growth. In community after community, the introduction or expansion of a Wal-Mart outlet has an impact the breadth and depth of which cannot be understated-particularly when the community in questions happens to be your own. In the absence of effective federal regulation, the burden has fallen to deliberative bodies at the state and local level to scrutinize Wal-Mart's growth machinery with the utmost care.

The aforementioned Rodino Associates report states clearly that a third-party assessment of a big-box retail outfit's impact at the community-level should be at the forefront of public discussion:

An impact assessment should be conducted by an entity that is independent of the retailer (and developer if a developer is involved) proposing to locate within the incentive zone, hired by the city...and funded by an impact fee paid by the retailer. The impact assessment should provide an analysis of the likely impacts on at least the following issues:

employment and compensation for labor
neighborhood retailers and consumer choice
municipal revenues
municipal investments in the incentive zone
commercial property values
land use and urban design19

While assembled at the request of the Los Angeles City Council, this checklist of potential impacts articulates a valuable model for each and every community deliberating any proposed Wal-Mart development. If the findings of GJF's Shopping for Subsidies have a moral, it's that any community that allows Wal-Mart to waltz its way into dominance over its retail environment has deprived itself of a crucial first line of defense. Wal-Mart has recently gotten into the habit of deftly scripted, flattering portraits of itself for distribution throughout the American media landscape. What's more, with Wal-Mart sparing no effort to insinuate itself into the fast-paced world of high-dollar politics-it is to date the 8th highest overall contributor ($1.6 million) in the current election cycle, with four dollars going to Republicans for every one to Democrats20-state and local officals would do well not to lie in wait for a renaissance of effective protections at the federal level.

That said, there have been heartening Congressional overtures made of late, geared towards strengthening the woefully vulnerable domestic labor laws Wal-Mart currently abuses. Among these, the Nader/Camejo Campaign finds HR 3619 (and its Senate counterpart S.1925), the Employee Free Choice Act, co-sponsored by Representative George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), to be particularly promising. To quote Everyday Low Wages:

This bill consists of comprehensive reform of the nation's labor laws in order to give meaningful effect to workers' right to organize - an internationally-recognized human right. The Employee Free Choice Act proposes triple damages for unlawful firings of pro-union workers during organizing drives, instead of the meager straight backpay remedy which allows employers to violate rights and destroy organizing drives at very little cost to them; imposes civil fines on employers who commit serious or repeated violations of the right to organize, instead of often meaningless and ineffective notice postings; provides for a card check system for choosing a union, rather than the easily-manipulated NLRB election process; and provides for first-contract mediation and binding arbitration, so that employers cannot stall bargaining until workers give up and abandon their union.21

Nader/Camejo 2004 applauds the recognition, implicit to the aim of the Employee Free Choice Act (currently in Committee in both houses), that the sooner Wal-Mart gets taken out of the union equation, the better-for Wal-Mart employees and for every American whose livelihood is affected by its ever-increasing, wage-depressing dominance in the retail market. Were the federal government to enact legislation of this kind-to say nothing of the benefits to be gained from a revocation of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act-the playing field between Wal-Mart and its currently unrepresented workforce would be leveled, and the corporation would be forced to exercise its reputed profit-making magic in the service of the men and women who make it possible.

In the meantime, lawsuits are increasingly becoming a thorn in Wal-Mart's side. This summer's certification of class-action status for a suit against the retailer, by a federal District Court in California, anoints Fortune's golden goose with the inauspicious distinction of defendant in the largest class-action in American history. Brought on behalf of 1.6 million former and current female Wal-Mart employees seeking back pay and damages for alleged policies of gender discrimination, Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has to date generated 200 depositions and an evidence catalog over 1 million pages thick.22 Despite the corporation's request for a review of the certification, the facts would appear to be arranged against Wal-Mart. In his certification decision, U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins notes that, although women constitute roughly two-thirds (65%) of Wal-Mart's workforce, they represent only 14% of its store managers, 23% of its Co-Managers (in Wal-Mart's larger stores), and 36% of its Assistant Managers.23 Further, Judge Jenkins takes into consideration and accepts expert testimony to the effect that:

while Wal-Mart regularly compiles statistics on the gender composition of its workforce, it has not undertaken a systematic assessment to identify possible barriers to women's advancement.... As another example, while Wal-Mart sets diversity goals for female representation in management, the goals appear to be largely ad hoc. Rather than setting the goals based on an understanding of the number of qualified and interested women available for a given position, many of the managers simply make their own subjective determinations or set their goals as incremental improvements over the prior year.24

In short, while Wal-Mart may not be guilty of having explicitly discriminatory policies on its books with respect to gender, it may nevertheless be guilty of espousing a culture of studied negligence with respect to diligently identifying and rewarding the advancement qualifications of its female employees, who outnumber male Wal-Mart employees 2 to 1.


Nader/Camejo 2004 recognizes that Wal-Mart is a foe of leviathan proportions in the struggle for meaningful accountability for multinational corporations. With its increasing profit-margins, Wal-Mart has ever more capital to devote to its ongoing push toward becoming the alpha and omega of the American consumer marketplace. When Wal-Mart feels a need to neutralize its naysayers with ads, it buys ads. When it prefers to sidestep weak federal regulations by paying comparatively paltry court costs, it pays the court costs. When it wants tailor-made development reports touting the "benefits" of its growth maneuvers, it contracts willing consultants. Finally, where Wal-Mart feels it can curry favor with the very legislators entrusted with the task of serving the public interest, it opens the floodgates of political cash contributions.

In the face of this formidable arsenal for corporate misrule, the greatest defensive asset ordinary Americans have at their disposal is their ability to communicate with one another about Wal-Mart's direct and indirect costs to consumers, communities, and country. It is not by accident that 221 communities have been victorious against Wal-Mart in "site fights" across the country.25Each of those victories owes a special debt to the galvanized communities that came before it, mustering the courage and the smarts to stand up for the better interests of the community as a whole. The fight for meaningful remedies to the "Wal-Mart Effect" gathers momentum with each new municipal ordinance, each court precedent, and each new illuminating investigative report. Nader/Camejo 2004 therefore urges Americans to increase the dialogue within their families and communities. Numerous internet resources make it possible to keep abreast of Wal-Mart's movements and the progress of challenges to the same. The better informed Americans become of Wal-Mart's widespread misdeeds, the less easily they will be gulled by its homespun public relations overtures. Perhaps most importantly, Americans have their power as consumers on their side. In fact, nothing could speak more powerfully to the boardrooms in Bentonville than Americans' denying Wal-Mart the privilege of their business until such time as its business model and stance on worker's rights deserve it.

1 Mattera, Philip & Purinton, Anna, Good Jobs First. Shopping for Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth. May 2004. (11 Jul. 2004). 5-6.
2 Rodino Associates. "Final Report on Research for Big Box Retail/Superstore Ordinance." October 28, 2003. (22 Jul. 2004).
3 "Our Retail Divisions-Wal-Mart Supercenters.". (21 Jul. 2004).
4 Sprawl-Busters. "Bentonville, AR. Annual Review: Wal-Mart Realty Has 371 'dark stores'.". February 21, 2004. (19 Jul. 2004).
5 Wal-Mart Realty. Front Page. (21 Jul., 2004).
6 Sprawl-Busters. "Bentonville, AR. Annual Review: Wal-Mart Realty Has 371 'dark stores'." February 21, 2004. (21 Jul. 2004).
7 Food Marketing Institute. "Competition and Profit." (14 Jul. 2004). 1. Figure 1.
8 U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Education and the Workforce. Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden price We All Pay for Wal-Mart. 108th Cong., 2d sess., 2004. February 2004. (14 Jul. 2004). 4.
9 United Food & Commercial Workers. "Wal-Mart's War on Health Care." (14 Jul. 2004).
10 AFL-CIO. October 2003. "Wal-Mart: An Example of Why Workers Remain Uninsured and Underinsured". (14 Jul. 2004). 10-11.
11 "Statements-Unions." (14 Jul. 2004).
12 International Confederation of Trade Unions. "Internationally Recognized Core Labour Standards in the United States." (15 Jul. 2004). 3-4.
13 Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden price We All Pay for Wal-Mart. (21 Jul. 2004). 5.
14 Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden price We All Pay for Wal-Mart. (21 Jul. 2004). 9.
15 Miller, Andy. "Wal-Mart Stands Out on Rolls of PeachCare: Sign-up Ratio Far Exceeds Other Firms." Atlanta Journal-Constitution. February 27, 2004. (21 Jul. 2004).
16 Fishman, Charles. "The Wal-Mart You Don't Know." Fast Company. December 2003. (21 Jul. 2004).
17 Cleeland, Nancy, Iritani, Evelyn, and Marshall, Tyler. "The Wal-Mart Effect: Scouring the Globe to Give Shoppers an $8.63 Polo Shirt." Los Angeles Times. November 24, 2003. (26 Jul. 2004).
18 Goodman, Peter and Pan, Philip. "Chinese Workers Pay for Wal-Mart's Low Prices: Retailer Squeezes Its Asian Suppliers to Cut Costs." Washington Post. February 8, 2004. (26 Jul. 2004).
19 Rodino Associates. "Final Report on Research for Big Box Retail/Superstore Ordinance.". October 28, 2003. (26 Jul. 2004)
20 Center for Responsive Politics. "2004 Election Overview: Top Overall Donors." July 5, 2004. (26 Jul. 2004)
21 Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden price We All Pay for Wal-Mart. (26 Jul. 2004). 19.
22 Associated Press. "Judge Approves Wal-Mart Class-Action Case." June 22, 2004. (26 Jul. 2004).
23 U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. "Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Motion for Class Certification." Betty Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. June 21, 2004. (26 Jul. 2004).12.
24 Ibid. 25.
25 Sprawl-Busters. "Victorious Secret ." (19 Jul. 2004).

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