Tag Archives: WalMart

Five New Reasons Not to Buy Matzah at Walmart

By Danny Feingold

If you’re like me, right now you may be scrambling to stock up on all of your Passover essentials. So what if I told you that you could get 12 boxes of matzah – more than enough to cover the eight days and nights of breadless revelry – for just over $40 bucks?

Ah, but there’s a catch: You’ll have to buy this miracle matzah pak at Walmart. Moral dilemma? You bet.

Last year we provided a short list of reasons you might want to think twice about a Walmart matzah binge. We wish we could report that Walmart had cleaned up its act since then, but alas, the world’s largest retailer has racked up a series of alleged corporate crimes and indiscretions that would make a pharaoh blush.

So before you succumb to those everyday low prices, here are five more reasons not to buy matzah at Walmart:

1) Hunger Strike: Remember those passages in the haggadah about the bread of affliction? When workers stop eating to protest conditions, you know things are really bad. That’s what happened in Cambodia earlier this month, when workers who sew clothes sold at Walmart staged a hunger strike because they weren’t being paid the extremely meager wages they were owed.

2) Forced Labor: If this doesn’t hit close to home, you really need to brush up on your Passover narrative. Last summer Walmart suspended one of its seafood suppliers  after an investigation discovered that workers were being forced to work up to 24 hours consecutively and had been locked in the plant. The same team found workplace violations at a dozen other Walmart food suppliers. Many of the aggrieved employees were foreign workers – strangers in a strange land indeed.

3) Fatal Factory Fire: Last November, in a tragedy eerily reminiscent of the Shirtwaist Triangle Factory Fire of 1911, 112 workers died in a blaze at an Indonesian factory that supplied clothes to Walmart. The New York Times discovered soon after that Walmart had played a leading role in blocking efforts to address safety concerns at Bangladeshi factories.

4) Quashing Freedom of Speech: As you prepare your Passover meditation on the meaning of freedom, keep in mind that among the most basic of liberties is the right to speak freely. This is not a right enjoyed by Walmart employees, which is why last December Walmart workers in 10 countries participated in a global protest against the company’s use of intimidation and firings to silence disgruntled workers.

5) Bribery Scandal: Last April, the New York Times broke the story that Walmart had allegedly covered up a bribery scandal in Mexico. The corporation’s Mexican subsidiary reportedly gave tens of millions of dollars to government officials to grease the wheels for store development there, and Walmart’s head honchos back home in Bentonville turned a blind eye. What’s the connection to Passover? We’re not sure, but we know your bubbi would not approve.

(Danny Feingold is communications director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.)

It’s Time for Bay Area Walmart Directors to Stand Up

The following is an Op-Ed by John L. Burton, Chairman of the California Democratic Party, Former President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate and Former Member, US House of Representatives.

The past year should have been a banner one for Walmart.  The company celebrated its 50-year anniversary and its stock reached an all-time high.  The Walton family, which largely controls the retail giant, includes four of the top 10 richest Americans and boasts a fortune of more than $115 billion.  But instead, 2012 has been a year of crisis for Walmart.    

In April, the New York Times published an expose alleging systemic bribery of government officials and a purported executive-led cover-up effort in the company’s Mexican division. The company is facing yet another gender discrimination lawsuit–on behalf of 100,000 women in California. And its supply chain has come under fire. Workers at seafood suppliers in Thailand and Louisiana went on strike to protest against slavery-like conditions, and warehouse workers who supply Walmart stores in Southern California and Chicago walked off their jobs to protest employer retaliation.

In the last month, strikes hit Walmart directly when associates in Los Angeles, Dallas and the Bay Area, to name a few places, walked off their jobs to protest retaliation against workers who spoke out about hours and pay in stores, among other issues. Last week, hundreds of Walmart associates traveled to company headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. to tell executives and Walmart chairman Rob Walton that it’s time for change.

Workers are tired of watching Walmart management retaliate against those who speak out to improve their stores.  But it shouldn’t just be Walmart Associates standing up.  Four members of the company’s board of directors are Bay area residents, and they should play leadership roles in helping a company sorely in need of change chart a new course.

The Bay Area Walmart directors include Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer; venture capitalist and Facebook board member Jim Breyer; Clinton Cabinet member Aida Alvarez; and Walton-by-marriage, Greg Penner.  They have ignored repeated efforts by Walmart workers – members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) – to discuss change at the company.

Instead of pretending the workers don’t exist, they should join Walmart Associates in promoting a vision of a better Walmart, where everyone is respected on the job and where Walmart jobs are good, stable ones with livable wages that support families. Walmart is the largest private employer in the world and the US, and is also the nation’s largest employer of African-Americans, Latinos and of women. If Walmart workers can change the company’s course, they will have helped catalyze a transformation of the entire American economy.      

Ms. Mayer and Mr. Bryer, as leaders in the new economy, and Ms. Alvarez, as a respected leader in the Latino community, can especially bring a fresh perspective to Walmart that helps the company find common ground with its employees instead of maintaining a decades-old strategy of confrontation. They should take a lesson from the brave Walmart associates who were in Bentonville last week and stand up for what is right, and for a better Walmart.  

Walmart’s smiley face isn’t smiling for Giumarra workers

Tell Walmart to stop its supplier Giumarra’s unlawful behavior

PhotobucketWalmart says it wants you to live better. But they apparently don’t feel the same way about the workers who pick the grapes and other produce they sell in their stores. They sell grapes and other produce from Giumarra’s Nature’s Partner label–despite knowing that this mega company abuses the grape workers who work in their vineyards.

Giumarra harvests approximately 1 out of every 10 bunches of grapes picked in the US. In addition they are a major label of imported and domestic produce. Combined with the market power of the Walmart behemoth, this huge conglomerate helps set the industry standard.  

PhotobucketHow does Giumarra abuse its workers? Here’s an example. California law says a person needs to make twice the minimum wage before they can be required to buy equipment necessary to do their job. Giumarra workers make minimum wage plus on a good day perhaps an additional $8 a day piece rate bonus. Giumarra knows this law, but does that keep them from violating it? Not according to many workers we’ve spoken to.

Farm worker Monica Martinez, who has worked at Giumarra for the last ten years, tells the story:

“The equipment–gloves and scissors for grapes and other items–we must buy ourselves without any type of reimbursement or compensation. In 2005, after the election, they gave us the equipment for a while and then they stopped. Now they only give it when they want to. There are times when we need gloves and no one provides them. Making us work without gloves ruins our hands.”

Enough is enough. Giumarra’s illegal behavior must be stopped.

As a key buyer of Giumarra’s imported and domestic produce–including grapes–Walmart has the ability to influence this produce giant. Please send Walmart an e-mail today and demand they exercise control over their suppliers by telling Giumarra/Nature’s Partner to demonstrate corporate responsibility.

Go to: http://www.ufwaction.org/campaign/walmart1009

Fuzzy Math that Would Make Enron Execs Blush

Who would you say is the most repugnant corporation in American corporate history?  Is it Enron, who gave record amounts to the Bush-Cheney machine and bankrupt millions of investors?  Halliburton, the shameless war profiteer?  Or Wal-Mart, the company that has done more than any other to drive down wages in America and has set a new low for how it treats its employees?  

It’s a tough choice.  The competition is fierce.  But lately I think Wal-Mart has been giving the others a run for their money, especially when it comes to cooking the books, deceiving the public with smoke-and-mirror statistics, and generally screwing over citizens and taxpayers.  It’s no secret that Wal-Mart treats its employees horribly, but Progress Ohio has uncovered troublesome data showing that the retailer is costing the Buckeye State taxpayers tens of millions on health care and welfare.  

You see, Wal-Mart claims that only 2.6% of their workforce and their dependents rely on Medicaid – that appears to be a flat-out lie. If Wal-Mart’s figure is correct, we would expect only 1,385 Ohio employees to be on Medicaid.  However, more than 15,000 of Wal-Mart’s Ohio employees and their dependents are on the program.  Unless Wal-Mart’s Medicaid enrollees have 10 dependents each, Wal-Mart’s official number is suspect beyond reasonable doubt.

That’s a lot of dough in a state that is under a lot of economic stress.  Wal-Mart makes billions each year and Ohio is suffering mightily, yet Wal-Mart would rather enrich executives (4 out of 10 of the richest Americans are Waltons) and send billions to China rather than provide decent benefits to hard working Americans in Ohio.  What is wrong with this picture?

If this concerns you as much as it does me, please join me at WakeUpWalmart.com  to help get our priorities straight in Ohio and America once again.  

The Ohio Benefits Report has been altered from the original publication. Appropriate changes were made to this diary to reflect those changes on Oct. 6, 2009.

Wilderness Walmart Fight Rages On

Here’s an idea: Let’s build a shopping mall on the National Mal in Washington, or even better, how about a McDonalds on Half Dome in Yosemite Park? Don’t these sound like good ideas? Well if you’re saying NO, then you probably agree that they make about as much sense as the proposal to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter on the grounds of the Wilderness Civil War Battlefield.  Robert Duvall agrees also and spoke out earlier this year:

Just last week, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, and six nearby residents filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Orange County. The suit challenges the August 2009 approval of Walmart’s proposal to plant a massive super center unacceptably close to the historic battlefield.

Video is via the Civil War Preservation Trust, and there is more after the fold:  

For those of you who don’t know about the Wilderness, it was a famous Civil War battle near Chancellorsville, Virginia. 3,700 Americans died there. To put that in perspective, about 2,000 Americans died on the shores on Normandy. The Civil War was certainly a grisly chapter in our history, but we owe it to our ancestors to not allow Wal-Mart to build a chapel to cheap Chinese crap on their graves.

I’m doing some work with Wake Up Wal-Mart to make sure that this store is never built, at least not here. You may not have a problem with Wal-Mart (although if you’re like me, you might have an issue with degrading worker treatment), but it’s high time that we set our priorities straight in this nation and stand up against GOP-allied mega-corporations treading on us.

Please join in me in fighting the Wilderness Wal-Mart and visit wakeupwalmart.com for the latest on the fight.

Labor’s Labor Day Challenge for Wal-Mart

This Labor Day, Wake Up Walmart, along with a large coalition of labor, environmental and community groups, are challenging Walmart to live up to their PR promises and join us in supporting the American Values Agenda for Change at Walmart.

To help with the effort, Wake Up Wal-Mart is airing two TV ads in major cities.  Check out the first here and the second below the fold:

The coalition includes: AFL-CIO, Change to Win, Sierra Club, Campaign for America’s Future, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Consumers League, AFSCME, American Rights at Work, Communications Workers of America, Interfaith Worker Justice, LIUNA, National Labor Coordinating Committee, Service Employees International Union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Auto Workers, United Farmer Workers and United Steel Workers.

The American Values Agenda for Change at Walmart issues a direct challenge to Walmart in five key areas: worker rights, quality jobs, equal opportunity, corporate responsibility and a healthy environment and lays out the next steps for how the coalition, led by the UFCW, will hold Walmart accountable for those challenges.

Help Needed Defeating Wal-Mart on Battlefield

Last week Virginia’s Orange County Board of Supervisors vote to approve the building of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter within the historic boundaries of the

Wilderness Battlefield – and one of the most significant battlefields of the Civil War.  The Civil War Preservation Trust has been fighting Wal-Mart on this location for over a year – seeking an alternative location and compromoise – and after last week they desperately need everyones help to stop Wal-Mart from moving forward and opening the door to further destructive development.  

Even State Senator Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for Virginia Governor, has written a letter to the president and CEO of Wal-Mart pleading with him to move the location off the historic battlefield.  Wake-Up Wal-Mart is helping in this fight and you can too by also writing a letter on the Civil War Preservation Trust’s website and also help spread the word yourself.

More from Blue Virginia and the Washington Post below:

Lowell at Blue Virginia has reasonably asked on the location:

Maybe I’m missing something here, like the (supposedly) urgent need to build retail right on top of a battlefield where 145,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fought and more than 29,000 were killed or injured. Can’t this store be located a mile down the road or something? What do you think?

Seems like a sensible question – just not to Wal-Mart.  The Washington Post further reports that:

[Civil War Preservation] Trust president Jim Lighthizer called on Wal-Mart to reconsider its decision to build within the footprint of the Wilderness Battlefield, near Fredericksburg, pointing to what he called, “nationwide anger generated by its proposal.”

“The ball is now in Wal-mart’s court,” he said. “It’s in the corporation’s best interest to work with the preservation community to find an alternative site. …We are optimistic that company officials will see the wisdom of moving somewhere else.”

That doesn’t sound likely, according to Wal-Mart regional spokesman Keith Morris. In an interview he said, “Two years ago, the county decided this site was one where growth should occur. We have looked at alternative sites and there are other sites but they require rezoning. There is no guarantee the county would approve another site.”

Morris pointed to the county planning commission’s second and little-noticed Aug. 20 4-3 vote that reversed a decision of the night before, when that commission deadlocked on the issue. A deadlock is considered a negative vote. Morris said that second vote was an indication of the county’s strong interest in seeing the store built at the proposed site.

There is a possibility that the Trust, as the lead organization of the Wilderness Coalition, will turn to the courts and appeal the board’s decision. Officials are debating their next step now.

Again, please help by writing a letter on the Civil War Preservation Trust’s website and spreading the word online.  

Thank you.

Labor Violations, Bogus Standards in WalMarts Chinese Supplier Factories – via China Labor Watch

In a new investigation from the China Labor Watch (CLW), “Wal-Mart’s Road to Sustainability: Paved with False Promises?”, the CLW reports on the Wal-Mart’s extreme exploitation of foreign factory workers – amongst many other egregious acts they’ve detailed.  

The CLW has found, as a result of investigations from April to June of this year, that violations at one of Wal-Mart’s suppliers, the Huasheng Packaging Factory, include:

• Elaborate system to cheat Wal-Mart audits.

• Some workers make only $0.51/hour, 60% of the minimum wage.

• Poor working conditions: workers inhale large amounts of paper particles and other debris.

• Twelve workers live together in cramped dorms

• Workers not paid overtime wages.

• During busy period, workday is 11 hours or 77 hours per week, and overtime is mandatory

Please help us by taking action and voicing your concern about Wal-Mart, and please continue reading for more from CLW’s press release.

This is merely the latest, and one of the most grievous, examples of Wal-Mart saying one thing and doing another, in their long running anti-labor track record.  Americans cannot continue to support the world’s largest retailer while it remains in support of some of the world’s worst labor standards.

CLW has also written a letter (pdf) to Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke, and you can read their full report here (pdf).  

CLW also reports that recent violations at another facility, the Hantai Shoe Factory – who they began investigating in July of 2008, also include:

• Overtime only paid up to Wal-Mart’s limits. When overtime surpasses the limit, extra wages are not paid until the following month.

• Workers forced to lie to Wal-Mart inspectors.

• 5 hours overtime daily. If workers request not to work overtime once, they will be denied any overtime for a month.

• Disguised layoffs to avoid paying severance payments to workers. Workers are abused by management or switched to undesirable jobs until they quit voluntarily.

The CLW’s press release goes on to conclude:

“These issues represent only a portion of the problems CLW has discovered in these two factories. In nearly 10 years of investigating Wal-Mart’s Chinese supply chain, CLW has identified these same violations at the majority of Wal-Mart’s suppliers. In terms of labor violations, Hantai is one of Wal-Mart’s better factories and Huasheng is one of its worse, yet no where are Wal-Mart’s standards actually met.

As the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart has the ability and responsibility to implement higher standards. CLW Executive Director, Li Qiang, stated, “Wal-Mart’s Social Responsibility standards are merely a public relations gimmick and have not actually been implemented; they are a cost-free way to improve public perceptions of Wal-Mart.”

Although Chinese workers lack recourse against abuses suffered in Wal-Mart’s supply chain, the world can condemn Wal-Mart’s unethical behavior.

The China-U.S. Economic and Strategic Dialogue, which opened in Washington today, will focus on economic, environmental and security cooperation. CLW calls on senior officials of both governments to encourage multinational companies to improve labor conditions in their supply chains and promote effective implementation of China ‘s Labor Contract Law.”

Will Walmart live up to their PR on Health Care this time?

There has been a lot of talk this week about the surprising move by Walmart to publically support President Obama’s health care reform plan, supposedly positioning themselves as a leader in the fight to bring health care to all Americans. As we mentioned in a post on our blog yesterday, this might be easier to swallow if Walmart had any history of leading by example. Instead, they usually do just the opposite.

Given Walmart’s long record of trying to build a positive reputation on ineffective work-arounds to health care coverage for employee, the recent revelations about sacrificing quality for cheap perescription drugs, and their deceptive PR campaign that severely overstated their workers’ health care coverage, it’s not hard to understand our skepticism. [get the details in the extended entry]

Despite all of their feel-good rhetoric, the reality is that nearly half of Walmart’s 675,000 employees – not to mention hundreds of thousands of children of these employees – remain without health care. The situation is not much better for the employees who are covered by Walmart’s plan, as highlighted by a Baltimore doctor in a letter to the editor in the Baltimore Sun. The submission details just how bad that coverage is for patients and doctors. Here is a short excerpt:

“I have several Wal-Mart employees as my patients. I can in all honesty declare that Wal-Mart, a wealthy corporation, for years got away with providing its employees no health care coverage at all or the type of coverage from which doctors could barely eke out payments.

Out of pocket expenses for patients are outrageous with this coverage. Hand me a Wal-Mart health insurance card, and I will let out a spontaneous sigh of exasperation because I know from experience what lies ahead is a runaround for meager compensation after I have delivered all the services.”


While we would love to think that Walmart has seen the light and is onboard to help every American attain the health care they deserve, we tend to agree with this fed up doc that “Wal-Mart is an image conscious opportunist.”

Stay up to date with the campaign against Walmart’s destructive policies at www.wakeupwalmart.com

Walmart’s $4 Drugs Coming From Indian Company Whose Products Have Been Banned In US and Canada

Walmart, in one of their worst ways of prioritizing prices above qualities to date, turns to a foreign drug supplier, Ranbaxy Laboratories, LTD, who has repeatedly been investigated by the FDA and the DoJ for “inadequate” safeguards against contamination, falsification of records and submitting false information to the FDA.  

On top of that, just eight months before the FDA inspected Ranbaxy’s Paonta Sahib plant and found significant violations, Walmart awarded the company a “Supplier Award” for improving shipping times and performance.

In a new report on our website, we detail their multi-year spanning violations, DoJ investigation, Congressional Investigation, and list out all of the drugs made at the facility in questions.  Additionally, we detail their recent violations below.  

2009 Violations

In Feb 2009, the FDA halted a review of importation applications for generic drugs manufactured at Ranbaxy’s Paonta Sahib plant owned by Ranbaxy Laboratories, LTD, the Indian generic drug manufacturer, “due to evidence of falsified data.” According to the FDA press release, Ranbaxy “falsified data and test results in approved and pending drug applications.” Not only were seven different examples of false statements made by Ranbaxy to the FDA in their warning letter – this was the third time the facility had run afould of fed Food and Drug laws.  

The FDA did include a caveat in its release, stating that the agency “has no evidence that these drugs do not meet their quality specifications and has not identified any health risks associated with currently marketed Ranbaxy products.”  But just a week after the FDA announced it was halting review of Paonta Sahib applications, Canada announced it was “quarantining” all drugs produced at the Paonta Sahib plant.

2008 Violations

Previously, in September 2008, the FDA issued warning letters to Ranbaxy regarding “significant deviations” from FDA standards for the manufacture of drugs sold in the United States. According to an FDA press release, the agency also banned the importation of any Ranbaxy drugs produced at the company’s Dewas and Paonta Sahib plants.

According to the release, the Dewas plant’s cross-contamination prevention program was “insufficient.” These programs are designed to prevent cross-contamination between different types of drugs. The plant also used “inadequate” sterilization procedures and performed “inadequate failure investigations.” According to the FDA release, failure investigations are performed “to address any manufacturing control or product rejection to determine the root cause and prevent recurrence.” The Paonta Sahib plant had “inaccurate” records regarding cleaning and maintaining of its equipment and “incomplete” records.

Deborah Autor, director of the Office of Compliance at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, announced that the “severe violations” had led the FDA to ban importation of drugs from these plants and to deny any new drug import applications for drugs manufactured at these plants.

Before the warning letters were sent and the sanctions put in place, Ranbaxy had the opportunity to rectify the problems at the Dewas and Paonta Sahib plants; however, the company’s “response failed to adequately address multiple, serious deficiencies.”

Again – please read our full report at Wake-Up Wal-Mart.