12.12.2008

'Tis the Season

I'm not sure if they are bargain hunters stumbling upon my Wal-Mart is Pure Evil site or, as I kind of hope, they are shoppers looking to educate themselves on the ugly business practices of the world's largest company.

But there has been a steady increase in traffic to one particular post on WIPE. It is What Every American Needs To Know and it details much of what Wal-Mart has done and continues to do that is shameful and wrong.

From a few hundred hits a day to closing in on two thousand per day.

But don't forget that the blog is also a running commentary on Wal-Mart's missteps and misdeeds kept up to date with news of lawsuits and towns repelling the invading retailer.

Here is that post again here:
Excerpted, with permission, from James Hightower,"Thieves in High Places"

The owners of one of America's premiere retail corporations is comprised of five of the ten richest people in the world, all from the same family.

Their personal wealth eclipses $100 BILLION dollars. Last year the company's CEO was paid a cool $11.5 million, more than the annual salaries of 765 of his employees combined! The company's profits are over $7 BILLION annually.

In these difficult economic times how do they do it?

* This company runs ads featuring the United States flag and proclaims "We Buy American". In 2001 they moved their worldwide purchasing headquarters to China and are the largest importer of Chinese goods in the US, purchasing over $10 BILLION of Chinese-made products annually. Products made mostly by women and children working in the labor hell-holes China is famous for.
* Their average employee working in the US makes $15,000 a year, $7.22 per hour!
* These employees gross under $11,000 a year.
* The company brags that 70% of their employees are full time, but fails to disclose that they count anyone working 28 hours a week or more as full time.
* There are no health care benefits unless you have worked for the company for two years.
* With a turnover rate averaging above 50% per year, only 38% of their 1.3 million employees have health care coverage. -In California alone it's estimated that the taxpayers pay over $20 million annually to subsidize health care benefits for these employees who get none from this behemoth corporation.
* According to a report by PBS's "Now" with Bill Moyer, their managers are trained in what government social programs are available for these"employees" to take advantage of so that the company can pass on those costs to you and me. It allows them to not only keep their $7 BILLION in annual profits, but to do so by substituting benefits they refuse to provide with benefits paid for with taxpayer dollars.
* This company holds the record for the most suits filed against it by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A lawyer from "Business Week" (not exactly the bastion for supporting Labor) said, "I have never seen this kind of blatant disregard for the law." They had to pay $750,000.00 in Arizona for blatant discrimination against the disabled! The judge was so incensed that he also order them to run commercials admitting their guilt.
* The National Labor Relations Board has issued over 40 formal complaints against the corporation in 25 different states in just the past five years. The NLRB's top lawyer believed that their labor violations, such as Illegal spying on employees, fraudulent record keeping, falsifying time cards to avoid paying overtime, threats, illegal firings for union organizing etc., were so widespread that he was looking into filing a very rare national complaint against the company. (The company contributed $2,159,330.00 to GW Bush and the GOP in 2000 and 2002. The NLRB attorney was replaced when President Bush took office.).
* Nearly 1 MILLION women are involved in the largest class-action suit every filed against a corporation. Although women make up over 65% of this corporations work force only 10% of them are managers. The women who have become store managers make $16,400 a year LESS then the men.
* The corporation took out nearly 350,000 life insurance policies on their employees. They did not tell the employees and then named the corporation as the beneficiary. They are now being sued by numerous employees, and although the corporation has stopped this practice of purchasing what is known as "Dead Peasant Policy's", a company spokesperson stated, "The company feels it acted properly and legally in doing this."
* They force employees to work after ordering them to punch out. In Texas alone this practice of "wage theft" is estimated to have cost employees $30 million per year. Wage theft or "off-the-clock" lawsuits are pending in 25 states. In New Mexico they paid $400,000.00 in one suit and in Colorado they had to pay $50 MILLION to settle one class-action case brought against them. In Oregon a jury found them guilty of locking employees in the building and of forcing unpaid overtime.
* With 4,400 stores they practice "predatory pricing." They come into a community and sell their goods at below cost until they drive local businesses under. Once they have captured the market the prices go up.
* Locally owned and operated businesses put virtually all of their money back into the community which helps keep the local economies vibrant. This corporation sucks the money out of the local community, decreases wages and benefits and ships the profits out of state.
* This company doesn't buy locally or bank locally. They replace three decent paying jobs in a community with two poorly paid "part-timers".
* In Kirksville, Missouri when this company came to town, four clothing stores, four grocery stores, a stationary store, a fabric store and a lawn-and-garden store all went under. Eleven businesses are now gone.

(The above information can be found in "Thieves in High Places", James Hightower, The Penguin Group, New York, NY, 2003 p. 166 - 193.)

Now you know how they can claim, "Always low prices." Wal-Mart is the largest corporation in the world, larger than General Motors and ExxonMobil. Wal-Mart will reap over 250 billion in sales in 2003, which is larger than the entire gross national product of Israel and Ireland combined. It has over 1.3 million employees. It sells more groceries, jewelry, photo processing, dog food, and vitamins than any other chain in the world. Wal-Mart refuses to stock Emergency Contraception at its pharmacies. Wal-Mart & Sam's Club is owned by the Walton family.

They will also never see a dime from my wallet again.

Please feel free to circulate this memo to everyone on your email lists. Only we, the citizens of this great country can stop this race to the bottom.
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