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Skip to comments.Praise Uncle Sam and pass the 18p an hour
Posted on 04/16/2005 1:04:18 PM PDT by Calpernia
At Wal-Mart's 1992 general meeting, founder Sam Walton asked shareholders to sing God Bless America. The 15,000 Wal-Martians responded to Sam's call - even though Walton had been dead for two months.
Walton's request to the shareholder-cum-revival meeting in rural Arkansas - channelled through a spotlit executive crouching on bended knee to speak to the departed Deity of Retail - was scarcely surprising. Wal-Mart is America's most patriotic, flag-waving company.
But look under the flags. Stores are decked out like a war rally. Stars and Stripes hang from the ceiling. Cardboard eagles shriek 'Buy America!' But one independent group sampled 105,000 store items and found only 17 per cent of them made in the USA. Indeed some items in trolleys marked Made in America came from elsewhere. So just where does all this stuff come from? Ask avid Wal-Mart shopper Wu Hongda.
'Harry' Wu is famous in the States. He escaped from China after 19 years in a prison camp for holding 'counter-revolutionary' views, then conned his way back into the prisons to document the misery of forced labour. In 1995, Wu was jailed once more, but not before he had reported the appalling tale of slave labour.
Naturally, Wal-Mart has contracts with suppliers that say none of its merchandise should be made by slaves, prisoners or little children. But among its suppliers is Shantou Garment Trading Company, based in Guandong Province. The Trading Company uses factories in Shantou town: nothing wrong with that. But some of the Trading Company's manufacturing is also carried out in nearby Jia Yang prison.
Do any of Wal-Mart's goods come from the prison? The company says it would refuse to handle anything made in a prison, and no one suggests that it knowingly connives in supporting prison labour. Wal-Mart repeats the mantra that its contracts forbid it.
But there is a clear problem here. An associate of Wu helping to investigate the Trading Company was told that Chinese authorities explicitly prohibit the monitoring of production inside the prison. Hence it is virtually impossible for any buyer to establish for certain whether goods from the Trading Company have been made by prisoners or 'free' labour.
According to Wal-Mart, it has to rely on the word of suppliers when they say that goods have been made only by 'free' workers.
And outside China? Who makes the dirt-cheap clothes that fill Wal-Mart's shelves? Are the factories that supply the company staffed by properly rewarded adults? This has long been a sensitive topic for Wal-Mart. In 1994, former Wall Street Journal reporter Bob Ortega, author of the fearsome expose, In Sam We Trust, was taken round Guatemalan factories which supplied Wal-Mart. They were filled with smiling adult workers.
But Ortega had arrived secretly two weeks earlier, and managed to speak to the child seamstresses hidden from the official tour. (When the scandal was exposed, Wal-Mart cancelled its contract with the plant.) Furthermore, in 1996, Wendy Diaz of Honduras testified before Congress about the sweatshop where, as a 13-year-old, she earned 18p an hour making Wal-Mart label clothes.
Wal-Mart has been decidedly touchy when questioned about the use of child labour. Do children make its goods? The answer depends on how you define children. When reporters confronted chief executive David Glass in 1992 with photographs of 14-year-old children locked in Bangladeshi factories that supply the company, he replied: 'Your definition of children may be different from mine.'
But this was in the bad old days, before Wal-Mart published its Code of Conduct, which was meant to end abuses. Since then, the supply chain has been cleaned up.
Or maybe not. The National Labour Committee of New York has given The Observer an advance copy of a yet-unpublished report on manufacturing in Bangladesh. It lists Wal-Mart contractor Beximco as paying teenage seamstresses an hourly rate of 12p and their helpers 5p, both for an 80-hour week - half Bangladesh's minimum wage and way beyond the country's maximum 60-hour working week.
Wal-Mart told me this could not happen if contractors stuck to their word.
The Observer last week sought the views of Wal-Mart's former lawyer, Hillary Clinton, the 'little lady' Sam appointed to his board of directors. She did not return our calls to Washington.
Despite the bothersome gripes of a few skinny children from Guatemala - and, as the company is fond of pointing out, this all happened years ago - Wal-Mart maintains a folksy image based on Walton's aw-shucks Joe Bloke manner. Joyous clerks chant pledges of customer service that end with shouts of: 'So help me, Sam!'
The multi-billionaire took time to go into his shops and warehouses and chat with employees over doughnuts. In 1982, on his way to becoming America's richest man, he dropped into an Arkansas distribution centre and told the loaders, as one regular guy to another, that if they voted to join a union in a representation ballot, he would fire them all and shut down the centre.
The words, corroborated by eight witnesses, were darn effective. The workers voted down the union, keeping Sam's record perfect. Out of 2,450 stores in America today, not one is unionised.
Who needs a union anyway? Arkansas headquarters would not tell The Observer the company's wage rate for clerks. So our volunteers called Wal-Mart stores nationwide to apply for cashier jobs. Openings averaged $6.10 an hour, equivalent to £3.59. When we inquired at a store near an Indian reservation, we were told the starting rate was only £3.03.
Wal-Mart offers a pension plan and there is profit-sharing. But remember, Sam Walton invented the disposable workforce. About a third of Wal-Mart's workers are temporary; working hours are expanded, shifted, contracted at whim. The workforce turns over like the shoe inventory. And the shorter time someone is with the company, of course, the more difficult it is to build up a full pension or qualify for profit shares.
With 780,000 workers, Wal-Mart has the nation's largest payroll. Many are among the country's worst-paid employees. But it could have been worse: Walton asked for the company to be exempted from US minimum wage legislation. Courts refused.
Wal-Mart doesn't completely ignore workers who plead for an extra bowl of porridge. According to Ortega, when Kathleen Baker, a Wal-Mart employee in Minneapolis, handed her store manager a petition from 80 workers hoping for a rise, she was fired on the spot for using the company typewriter to write the petition. The charge ruined her ability to get another job - until Wal-Mart, under government pressure, agreed to clear her name.
In 1994, Linda Regalado was told she would lose her job if she continued to talk to fellow 'associates' about their right to join a union. She persevered and Wal-Mart made good its threat. Only when the government intervened did Wal-Mart agree to pay compensation.
And shortly afterwards Linda Regalado found herself at loggerheads with the company, her husband Gilbert, working at the same store, was seriously injured at work. Wal-Mart initially refused to pay for surgery, but later agreed after being sued by the family.
Having conquered America, will Wal-Mart's megaliths now chew up England's green belts and bleed high streets dry? A Wal-Marted Britain is not an inevitability. US towns 'are wising up,' says Al Norman, head of Sprawl-Busters, which has helped 88 communities slam the door on the Beast in the Box. Near my home, 60 miles from New York City, Wal-Mart has built a Sam's Club. It is one of the company's smaller outlets. Yet still, it could accommodate three super-Tescos and a football field. Shoppers are offered 70,000 different lines begging to be bought. Sam's Club panders to my nastiest human desire for Cheap and Plenty.
But my store-gasm has a cost. I step out of the Big Box and into the Pine Barrens, the last scrap of woodland left on Long Island's suburban moonscape, which Wal-Mart cut down for its parking lots. So Help Me Sam.
I'm not the biggest Wal-Mart fan, but foreign hatred of them such as this--based primarily on its "Americanism"--makes me want to shop there on principle.
I didn't archive if for the foreign view of walmart. I clipped it for the Clinton connection.
It's from Palast. Not good enough to print for toilet paper.
What does the article being from the Palast have to do with Hillary being a lawyer for WalMart?
Do you know who Palast is?
The author of the article. What does that have to do with Clinton's law firm being the lawyer's for Walmart since 1985?
I posted in post 1 that was only archiving here at FR since the article is now offline.
Hey, you do what you want, but be aware that a couple of threads have even been deleted because of his sterling reputation.
Then ping the admin.
What's your problem? How about you go to his site and see for yourself what he is instead of acting like a petulant crybaby?
And how he acts bothers you because?
And his kind doesn't bother you because?
I don't follow his work. I just want the walmart hillary reference posted here.
Thank you for your concern.
Thank you for finding and posting this.
It will take all we can get come 2008.
proves even the evil left, can goof and write something worth reading.
Since Walmart is the #1 store in this area, I won't comment on the Made in USA, wish I could do so.
Wow, I just picked up on something else.
>>> But among its suppliers is Shantou Garment Trading Company, based in Guandong Province.
What on earth is Guandong Province?
This area made an entire section of my newspaper back in 2001 covering about HIV tainted blood. Villagers there sold their blood to make money, then most of the village was whiped out from HIV.
Then, while we were tracking the SARs threads, we just about pinned SARs to Guandong from that inspector that caught it there.
Now, this WalMart article is making reference to prison labor camps in Guandong.
A pretty horrid picture is being painted of this area.
Then perhaps you should follow his work.
Palast is one of the cheerleaders for the wacko Left, as evidenced in his many scrivenings over the "theft" of the Election by President Bush, not once, but twice. Yes, he claims that Kerry won.
That obsession alone means he hasn't one scintilla of credibility about anything, hence my comment that his "writing" is nothing better than toilet paper, which I threw out there in passing and went on my merry way, but you seem to have taken offense. Before you take such umbrage in the future I suggest you haunt a few of the various hippie sewers, see how Palast is held in such regard, and maybe you'll at least have a little understanding of why some of us totally dismiss him.
Hang in there....
Dang fly on my monitor.
One has to ask how easy it is for SARS and HIV and other germs to travel in shoes, clothes and toys?
What are we buying with our bargains?
I remember flutters has an older bump list when we were following this more closely. We saw articles that said the germ can live on money. So I would imagine it can live on other materials too.
I would be very skeptical about anything Palast writes. He is rabidly anti-business.
IF the people working for them are unhappy, then they should find other employment. After all: this is America you know. I realize that I may sound pro Wal-Mart, but in reality, I'm pro capitalist. The buying public is fully aware of all the foreign goods that they are buying from Wal-Mart, and still they line up in droves to purchase those goods.
If the American People didn't want the cheap goods, they wouldn't buy them. The problem is, that most Americans could care less where the goods come from, or who made them, as long as they are cheap.
And as far as Hillary being on the payroll of the company: That was simply a strategic business decision. Again not illegal
Sorry to hear your Wheaties were soggy this morning.
Adding another gem.
Wal-Marts First Lady
Twice in three days last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton basked in the adulation of cheering union members. Her record of supporting collective bargaining, however, is considerably worse than wobbly.
Pity the thousands of unionists at last Tuesday's state Democratic convention who chanted her name, and the hundreds of retired Teamsters at Thursday's luncheon in midtown who had interrupted their Founder's Day meal to hear the corporate litigator turned union-loving Democrat deliver a campaign speech.
They would have dropped their forks if they had heard that Hillary served for six years on the board of the dreaded Wal-Mart, a union-busting behemoth. If they had learned the details of her friendship with Wal-Mart, they might have lost their lunches.
She didn't mention Wal-Mart. Instead, she praised the Teamsters and other unionized workers as a "key movement in creating the middle class," and she pledged to "prevent anyone from turning the clock back," reminding them that "the Republicans are trying to do away with collective bargaining."
As she was leaving the dais, she ignored a reporter's question about Wal-Mart, and she ignored it again when she strode by reporters in the hotel lobby.
But there are questions. In 1986, when Hillary was first lady of Arkansas, she was put on the board of Wal-Mart. Officials at the time said she wasn't filling a vacancy. In May 1992, as Hubby's presidential campaign heated up, she resigned from the board of Wal-Mart. Company officials said at the time that they weren't going to fill her vacancy.
So what the hell was she doing on the Wal-Mart board? According to press accounts at the time, she was a show horse at the company's annual meetings when founder Sam Walton bused in cheering throngs to celebrate his non-union empire, which is headquartered in Arkansas, one of the country's poorest states. According to published reports, she was placed in charge of the company's "green" program to protect the environment.
But nobody got greener than Sam Walton and his family. For several years in the '80s, he was judged the richest man in America by Forbes magazine; his fortune zoomed into the billions until he split it up among relatives. It's no surprise that Hillary is a strong supporter of free trade with China. Wal-Mart, despite its "Buy American" advertising campaign, is the single largest U.S. importer, and half of its imports come from China.
Was Hillary the voice of conscience on the board for American and foreign workers? Contemporary accounts make no mention of that. They do describe her as a "corporate litigator" in those days, and they mention, speaking of environmental matters, that she also served on the board of Lafarge, a company that, according to a press account, once burned hazardous fuels to run its cement plants.
Wal-Mart, though, was the crown jewel of Arkansas, the state's First Company fit for a first lady. During her tenure on the board, she presumably helped preside over the most remarkable growth of any company until Bill Gates came along. The number of Wal-Mart employees grew during the '80s from 21,600 to 279,000, while sales soared from $1.2 billion to $25.8 billion.
And the Clintons depended on Wal-Mart's largesse not only for Hillary's regular payments as a board member but for travel expenses on Wal-Mart planes and for heavy campaign contributions to Bill's campaigns there and nationally. According to reports in the early '90s, before Bill and Hillary moved to D.C., neither was raking in the big bucks, but prominent in their income were her holdings of between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of Wal-Mart stock.
A press report on the Clintons' finances during the early stages of Bill's 1992 run for the presidency showed that most of their income came from her $109,719 annual salary from the Rose Law Firm and tens of thousands of dollars in fees she received from serving on corporate boards. (She was on two others besides Wal-Mart's.) Her honoraria and director fees grew almost as fast as Wal-Mart's profits during the '80srising from $111 in 1980 to $6500 in 1986 to $64,700 in 1991, according to the same source.
During the same period, small towns all over America began complaining that Wal-Mart was squeezing out ma-and-pa stores and leaving little burgs throughout the Midwest and South with downtowns that featured little more than empty storefronts.
But selected small companies were doing quite well, thanks to the Clintons' friendship with Wal-Mart. The Boston Globe reported in January 1992 that Bill Clinton had introduced a brush company's executives to Wal-Mart executives, hoping that the two could do bidness. Executives of the brush company had been rebuffed in previous attempts to sell their products to Wal-Mart. Lucky for the company, it happened to be located in New Hampshire, where Clinton was trying to win a presidential primary. At the time, Hillary Clinton was still on Wal-Mart's board, and the retail giant was still resisting the unionization of any of its workers.
Last week, Hillary was wearing a different hat. She stood in solidarity with the elderly Teamsters as Local 237 president Carl Haynes greeted her warmly, endorsed her, and then left early on what other union officials described as "AFL-CIO business."
But the AFL-CIO was thinking of other business only a few months earlier when the union's leaders, including its chief, John Sweeney, marched specifically against Wal-Mart's oppression of its meat-market workers. According to a Web site run by activists at the AFL-CIO affiliate United Food and Commercial Workers, Wal-Mart "has profited by pushing its workers to the bottom of the wage scale." The union points out that hourly wages "average $2 to $3 per hour less than at unionized supermarkets." More grave for workers everywhere in the United States are these figures spouted by union activists: Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the country, "yet fewer than 40 percent of its workers are covered by the company's health plan."
The union notes that Wal-Mart's "hometown" judge in Arkansas issued a nationwide temporary restraining order against the UFCW, barring anyone associated with the union from entering Wal-Mart facilities to educate workers about their legal rights in the workplace. The union, however, successfully appealed the ordernoting that the judge holds more than $500,000 in Wal-Mart stock. The case remains in litigation.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's first lady, who also benefited from Wal-Mart stock, solicits support from union workers.
Which makes her words to the elderly Teamsters last week especially poignant: "You can count on me to stand up for the right to collectively bargain!"
Right on, sister!
You might also be interested in these old postings that show a Clinton-WalMart connection via Clinton backer, Jackson Stephens.
Jackson Stephens: The Father of WTI
Crime/Corruption Opinion (Published) Keywords: JACKSON STEPHENS
Source: Waste Not
Published: July 1997 Author: Brian Lipsett and Ellen Connett
Posted on 09/10/1999 12:20:40 PDT by Uncle Bill
Stephens is the chairman of Stephens Inc., the nation's largest investment bank off Wall Street. Its home office is located in little ol' Little Rock, Arkansas. He and his brother, Witt, built the Stephens Inc. empire out of a bible, belt buckle and bond business. In 1994, Stephens Inc. was listed as one of the biggest institutional shareholders in 30 large multinationals including the Arkansas based firms Tyson Food (# 10), Wal-Mart (# 113) and Alltel (# 12). Interestingly, it was Stephens who staked Sam Walton when he started Wal-Mart in 1970, and financed Tyson's takeover of Holly Farms in 1988. (Stephens, Tyson and Walton (1917-1992), all billionaires from Arkansas.) Stephens sold a 275 phone exchange to Alltel when they broke into the phone market, and guaranteed in 1990 that Alltel would get Systematics by refusing to sell his 10% stake in Systematics to anyone but Alltel. In many ways Arkansas is the house that Jack built. Unfortunately, for the folks in East Liverpool, Ohio, and the Tri-State area (WV, PA, OH) who were saddled with Von Roll's hazardous waste incinerator, Arkansas was never big enough for Stephens.
Jackson Stephens: the Father of WTI & Liebermann thoughts
Source: Waste Not
Published: July, 1997 Author: Brian Lipsett and Ellen Connett.
Posted on 08/25/2000 10:11:40 PDT by quidam
>>> I didn't fully understand what you meant by reverse propaganda
Let me try again.
Create an environment or situation to rally support for something that people were normally against.
I guess I understood that part, but I I'm dense, LOL. It seems that the propaganda is trying to put people into one of only two camps: Pro-Union, or Pro-WalMart. If Hillary is aligned with the WalMart folks, as I believe, her rallying on behalf of Unions would be for show, only, and a half-hearted effort, if that.
What am I missing?
(btw, I do not believe that WalMart is in any way the conservative organization they try to portray; all signs point to the opposite)
There is nothing new in this piece, and I totally agree with "Jo Jo Gunn". The writer of this piece has zero credibility on any subject.
I don't appreciate the bashing of big business either, because it is only so much whining by individuals who haven't figured out how to do like wise, and those particular type of folks are most always on the left!
If you sincerley believe this story to be true, then perhaps you should stop buying from Wal-Mart, and you may even want to start a boycott against them, until they start doing business the way you see fit. Again, I didn't find anything of any real substance here. It was nothing more than rehashed allegations, and insinuations.
But hey : nice try anyways! I just shared my opinion on the piece, so please don't take it personal.
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