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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

It's About the Greed

I received the following as part of an e-newsletter from an AFL-CIO source. I don't usually publish things like this on my blog because I prefer to give you my own personal opinion and to put original writing - my own - on my site; but I consider this important enough to make an exception.

I should also let you know that I am not personally anti-Wal-Mart, per se. I know many people on limited or fixed incomes who don't have the luxury of boycotting a company that provides them with great bargain prices. But somehow there has got to be a way to give these folks low cost goods while not exploiting children, women, and immigrants - society's most vulnerable members - in order to rake in big buck profits while doing it.

Wal-Mart has proven that it's no friend to small businesses or even larger businesses in competition with them. It's also no friend to its own suppliers who it squeezes unmercifully with hardball tactics. And it's certainly no friend to the many communities which it has destroyed by driving citizens from the centers of towns to suburban strip malls to shop. My husband comes from one such small Tennessee town where the main street is now composed of pawn shops and shuttered store fronts.

Wal-Mart uses hardball tactics on friend and foe alike. So read below and if you can lend a hand, please do so.

"Dear Working Families e-Activist,

Let Wal-Mart Hear It from Children

Help your child send a message to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott to let him know your family won’t be buying any back-to-school
supplies from
Wal-Mart this year.

Mail your child’s
letter by Aug. 1 to:

Lee Scott
C/O Wal-Mart Campaign
815 16th St., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006

We'll see that Scott
gets the message—
loud and clear.

Connecticut just fined Wal-Mart for child labor law violations. And in January, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $134,540 after being cited for child labor violations in Connecticut, Arkansas and New Hampshire.

Really—that’s not the kind of place we want to shop for our children’s back-to-school supplies, is it?

This is a great opportunity to send a strong message to Wal-Mart and start the children in your life on the way to activism. Help them write letters by Aug. 1 to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott telling him why their families won’t buy school supplies from Wal-Mart this year. Here are some unpleasant facts about Wal-Mart they can use as they write their letters:

Wal-Mart has racked up huge fines for child labor law violations. The rich company reportedly makes children younger than 18 work through their meal breaks, work very late and even work during school hours. Several states have found Wal-Mart workers younger than 18 operating dangerous equipment, such as chain saws, and working in dangerous areas like trash compactors. (The New York Times, 1/13/04; The Associated Press, 2/18/05; The Hartford Courant, 6/18/05)

Wal-Mart pays poverty-level wages and fails to provide affordable health insurance to more than 600,000 employees. That means Wal-Mart workers and their families have a hard time paying the bills and getting the health care they need. (Wal-Mart annual reports; BusinessWeek, 10/2/03)

Wal-Mart has a shameful record of paying women less than men—discriminating against moms. Wal-Mart paid full-time male employees $5,000 more than women on average in 2001. Some 1.6 million women are eligible to join a class-action lawsuit charging Wal-Mart with discrimination. (Richard Drogin, Ph.D., 2/03; Los Angeles Times, 12/30/04)

Wal-Mart sells products made by young people in other countries who work in horrible conditions over long hours for little money doing dangerous jobs. In Africa, workers who make clothing for Wal-Mart are forced to put in too many hours, are yelled at by their bosses, are not paid enough to take care of their families and can’t even take breaks to use the bathroom. Wal-Mart refused to investigate stories that shoes and jeans from Asia were being made by workers in forced labor camps. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/14/04; China Labor Watch, the National Labor Committee and Clean Clothes Campaign reports)

Wal-Mart can afford to do better. Wal-Mart—America's largest private employer—raked in $10 billion in profits last year. CEO Lee Scott landed nearly $23 million in total compensation last year alone. Wal-Mart has no excuse for its behavior.
Help your children write letters telling Scott his company is hurting families, communities and children here and around the world—and that’s why your family won’t be shopping for back-to-school supplies at Wal-Mart this year. Please send the letters to:

Lee Scott
C/O Wal-Mart Campaign
815 16th St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

We'll see that Scott gets the message—loud and clear.

Thank you for working to stop the Wal-Marting of America’s jobs and for getting the children involved.

To learn more about how Wal-Mart affects your community, go to:

Thanks for all that you do for working families.

In solidarity,

Working Families e-Activist Network, AFL-CIO
July 12, 2005

P.S. Help us get thousands of letters from children to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott. Please forward this e-mail to parents you know who also want to stop the Wal-Marting of America’s jobs. Thanks!"

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