Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Wal-Mart Gets an 'F'
New Retailer Scorecard grades companies on sweatshop practices
May 19, 2004

Washington, DC - Co-op America, a national consumer education nonprofit organization, has issued a Retailer Scorecard on labor standards and practices for eight large US retailers, Wal-Mart, got the only 'F’ due to their documented business transactions with sweatshop factories in Central America and South East Asia. JC Penny, Target, and Sears got 'D’s, while Target got a 'D+’ and Federated (including: Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s) and May’s (including: David’s Bridal and Hecht’s) received 'C’s. (Scorecard located at www.sweatshops.org.)

“The Retailer Scorecard gives consumers a summary of how companies rate when it comes to labor standards,” says Alisa Gravitz, Co-op America Executive Director. “The eight large companies all rated average or below because of the sweatshop practices of their suppliers. Businesses don’t have to use sweatshop labor to stay competitive, over 80 percent of consumers say they would pay more for products made under 'good’ conditions.”

Wal-Mart, according to the Los Angeles Times and Fast Company, forces its suppliers to continually lower prices, and to survive, the suppliers often move their US operation overseas. Workers at Wal-Mart supply factories in Bangladesh and China say that Wal-Mart’s push to lower prices drives factory owners to engage in labor law violations, which are easily concealed from auditors.


Wal-Mart suppliers’ labor abuses include:

Tarrant Apparel Group, in Mexico, where 500 employees were fired for trying to unionize.*

Confecciones Ninos, in El Salvador, where workers were denied overtime wages, drinking water, bathroom visits, and sick days.*

Wins Facilities, in San Francisco, California, where 200 garment workers were owed almost $1 million in unpaid wages.*

Daewoosa, in American Samoa, was convicted in 2003 of human trafficking for illegally confining workers in “involuntary servitude,” holding their passports, and threatening deportation for any acts of non-compliance. *

“Consumers concerned about the use of sweatshop labor in products they buy can turn to alternatives,” claims Pauline Tiffen, Managing Director of the Fair Trade Federation. “Co-op America’s Consumer Guide to Ending Sweatshops is a great resource for consumers looking to avoid sweatshops and support socially and environmentally conscience businesses.”

*( Sources: Sweatshop Watch, Orange County Weekly, Women’s Wear Daily, Human Rights Watch, The Economist, San Francisco Chronicle, DOL, Manchester Guardian Weekly, Washington Post)


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