• Wal-Mart operates over 6,500 discount stores throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico and sells products ranging from groceries to clothing to automotive and electronic equipment.
• Due to low wages and negligible benefits, thousands of Wal-Mart employees are dependent on public assistance to meet their basic needs, and American taxpayers eventually subsidize Wal-Mart's low prices.
• Wal-Mart hurts U.S. communities by undercutting local merchants and increasing urban sprawl, and its suppliers have been cited for labor and human rights violations.
• Wal-Mart has been repreatedly accused of union busting in the US and Canada, and of using a "Labor Relations Team" that stops Wal-Mart workers from unionizing.
• Wal-Mart's overseas suppliers have been repeatedly accused of using sweatshop labor.
• A recent investigation by the AFL-CIO affiliated Solidarity Center found that Wal-Mart is sourcing shrimp from plants in Thailand and Bangladesh where workers as young as 8 years old are subject to sweatshop conditions.
• Shop with Go Green and pressure Wal-Mart to reduce its environmental impact and respect its workers.
-- Profile Updated 03/28/2011
Wal-Mart operates over 6,500 discount stores throughout the United States, and is now also the premier retailer in Canada and Mexico. Wal-Mart stores sell products ranging from groceries to clothing to automotive and electronic equipment. Headquartered in Bentonville Arkansas, the company reported sales of $348.650 billion and employed 1.9 million people in fiscal 2007.
Wal-Mart Free DC
Wal-Mart is planning on opening 4 stores in DC by 2012. Join local residents to fight the company notorious for threatening small businesses, eliminating jobs, lowering wage standards to entire communities, and supporting sweatshop labor.
Fair Trade Your Supermarket
Have you ever been frustrated by searching the shelves of your local supermarket for Fair Trade chocolate or sugar, coffee or tea, rice or fresh fruit, only to find none available? Our new campaign gives you the tools you need to join with other Fair Trade advocates around the country, pushing more and more supermarkets to carry products that are certified to be good for people and the planet.
Please follow the link provided to help your Supermarket become Fair Trade.
Ask Wal-Mart to Wash its Hands Clean of Triclosan
Triclosan is a hazardous chemical that is found in 75 percent of all liquid anti-bacterial soaps. It has been linked to early onset of puberty, reproductive issues, breast cancer, and may even harm acquatic life when it gets flushed down the pipes. Tell Wal-Mart to add Triclosan to their list of harmful chemicals that are banned from products they sell.
Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch
Wal-Mart has received over $1.2 billion in tax breaks and other corporate subsidies such as low-cost financing and even grants. Additionally, becuse Wal-Mart does not provide health insurance for all its employees, the burden is placed on American taxpayers to fund Medicaid and other government programs. Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch is a new campaign from the nonprofit, Good Jobs First, that tracks information on the subsidies Wal-Mart receives. There is a section where you can compare on a state-by-state basis how much and what kind of subsidies Wal-Mart is receiving in your area.
Stop Pharmacies' Discrimination Against Women
Pharmacies in nearly 20 states can refuse to fill women’s prescriptions for contraception, including the morning-after pill. Pharmacies are not ensuring that patients get their doctor-prescribed contraceptives so NARAL Pro-Choice America is imploring major pharmacies (Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreen, and Eckerd) not to interfere with a woman's choice. Click on the link below to support this campaign.
Send Bangladeshi Child Workers Back to School
Bangladeshi garment plant Harvest Rich employed roughly 200 to 300 children to sew clothes for Puma, JCPenney, Wal-Mart and Hanes. In October 2006, the National Labor Committee reported children being beaten, suffering from exhaustion, working mandatory 12 to 14 hour days, and being paid as little as 6½ cents an hour. Harvest Rich fired more than 100 child workers following the publication of NLC's report and threatened to fire any workers found cooperating with the investigation of labor conditions. NLC is demanding US companies sourcing from the factory to supply each fired child worker with a monthly stipend to ease strain on their families and cover essential school expenses for textbooks, supplies, uniforms and shoes so the children may return to school. Read NLC's report to learn more details of the factory. Click on the URL below to take action in support of Bangladeshi Child workers.
Wal-Mart Watch, a campaign of The Center for Community and Corporate Ethics, supports ongoing community action campaigns against the giant retail company. Wal-Mart Watch is calling for public action to oppose Wal-Mart’s bank charter application in the state of Utah. Wal-Mart’s attempts to acquire bank charters in other states have failed; however, critics fear that the retail giant stands a much higher chance of achieving lender status due to particular laws in the state of Utah. Community activists are concerned that a bank of Wal-Mart will adversely affect local economies and effectively eliminate any opportunities that small businesses currently have to compete against Wal-Mart.
In April of 2005, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union launched the Wake-Up Wal-Mart campaign, criticizing Wal-Mart for inadequate wages and health care, discrimination and failing to meet fair labor standards. Wake-Up Wal-Mart calls for consumer pledges against shopping Wal-Mart, appeals to state legislators for “Fair Share for Health Care,” legislative action designed to protect taxpayers from the medicare burden of Wal-Mart’s workforce, and to act locally against Wal-Mart stores by organizing community members and local media. For more information and to get involved, click on the URL below.
Outdoor Furniture Campaign
Rainforest Relief is calling for consumer action against Wal-Mart for distributing furniture made of precious wood from endangered old-growth forests. Wal-Mart stores carry three brands of outdoor furniture built using nyatoh, a tropical hardwood that has increased in demand due to global crackdowns on teak harvesting. Nyatoh comes from ecologically sensitive rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia that are in danger of disappearing forever. Rainforest Relief is asking consumers to call and email Wal-Mart, to request the company to stop purchasing furniture containing endangered tropical hardwoods.
Ohio Citizen Action
Ohio Citizen Action is urging Kroger and Wal-Mart to take the lead in making sure the Teflon chemical "C8" is eliminated from food packaging. The group is calling on citizens to send an email to H. Lee Scott, President and CEO of Wal-Mart and Kroger CEO David Dillon. The chemical "C8", which is used to make non-stick and greaseproof coatings, has been linked to cancer and reproductive defects and has been found in the blood of 95% of Americans. Take action to support this effort by clicking on the link below.
No Dirty Gold
The No Dirty Gold campaign sponsored by Oxfam America and Earthworks focuses on changing the destructive practices of the gold mining industry by using consumer pressure. Gold mining often destroys clean environments, harms workers, contaminates drinking water and displaces communities simply to supply the developed world's demand for jewelry. No Dirty Gold calls on consumers to sign its campaign pledge and to demand that jewelers source their gold responsibly. Sears/Kmart, JCPenney, Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer Jewelers have been identified as "laggard" retailers that fail to make a commitment to purchasing more responsibly produced gold. Click on the URL below to take action.
End Wal-Mart Sweatshops Campaign
The International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) is calling for consumer action to stop Wal-Mart's use of sweatshops. Workers in Wal-Mart supplier factories are routinely subjected to forced labor, minimum wage and overtime pay violations, health care violations and more. Wal-Mart's international purchasing power can be used to change such conditions, and consumer pressure will help make this happen. To take action and send a message to Wal-Mart, click on the URL below.
Be Safe PVC
The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) and a growing network of organizations are launching PVC consumer campaigns to encourage major corporations to phase out their use of PVC and to support policies that phase out PVC…
The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) and a growing network of organizations are launching PVC consumer campaigns to encourage major corporations to phase out their use of PVC and to support policies that phase out PVC. They have already convinced Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Victoria’s Secret, and Bath and Body Works to phase out their use of PVC in their packaging! They want to leverage these victories to build momentum for further commitments to safer products in the years to come.
Green Shopping Pledge
Sign the Green Shopping Pledge and let the Walton Family, founders of Wal-Mart, know that you and your family will not be shopping at their stores, and get your friends and co-workers to join you in taking this pledge.
Co-op America's ADOPT-A-SUPERMARKET campaign is linking up Fair Trade advocates with stores in their local communities to keep pressure on supermarkets to carry and promote more Fair Trade products. Sign up to Adopt-A-Supermarket today. Tell us which store you are adopting and the location of the store.
ASDA Group Limited - Leeds, United Kingdom
- Bompreco S.A. Supermercados do Nordeste - Recife, Brazil
- Sam's Club - Bentonville, AR
Sam's Club - Bentonville, AR
- Wal-Mart Canada Corp. - Mississauga, Canada
- Wal-Mart de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. - Mexico, Mexico
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center - Bentonville, AR
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center - Cullman, AL
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center - Laurens, SC
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center - Mount Pleasant, IA
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center - New Braunfels, TX
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center - Palestine, TX
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center - Plainview, TX
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center - Porterville, CA
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center - Seymour, IN
- Wal-Mart Realty Company - Bentonville, AR
- Wal-Mart.com USA LLC - Brisbane, CA
Bentonville, AR 72716 USA
Compare Wal-Mart to other companies in these industries
A recent investigation by the Workers' Rights Committee has revealed that apparel manufactures in Bangalore, India have been refusing to pay factory workers more than $10 million, because they refused to comply with the minimum wage increase in India in March of 2009. Approximately 1/3 of all factory workers, or 125,000 workers, in the region are owed back wages by factories, who say they were acting on the advice of the leading industry association, the Clothing Manufacturers' Assocation of India. The factories involved manufacture apparel for many well-known US and international brands including, Wal-Mart, Adidas, the Gap, H&M, JC Penney, Levi-Strauss, Phillps Van Heusen, and Nike. Wal-Marts south Asian operations are headquarted in Bangalore.
-- National Labor Committee, 03/04/2010
Wakmart settles a Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sex discrimination suit for the cost of more than $11.7 million. Walmart London, Kentucky distribution center didn't hire female workers between years 1998-2005, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Laws of 1964.
-- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 03/01/2010
Ikea, Kohl’s and Walmart are members of 2010 Sweatshops Hall of Shame, published by International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF). These companies are on the list because of unsafe working conditions at the factory Mederes Tekstil in Denizili in Turkey. This factory produces bed linens for Ikea, Kohl’s and Walmart. Unionizing is prevented by punishment or dismissal. Four workers have died because of the unsafe working environment. Ikea, the factory’s primary buyer investigated the labor conditions in the factory and concluded that there were no major labor problems. Requests made by ILRF to work on improving the conditions in the factory have been ignored by all three companies. Read more about the 2010 Sweatshops Hall of Shame in ILRF’s report.
-- International Labor Rights Forum, 12/17/2009
Wal-Mart has agreed to a settle 63 lawsuits waged in 42 states claiming the big-box giant violated US labor laws by forcing employees to work off-the-clock, erasing hours from timecards and denying workers their lunch breaks. Wal-Mart will pay at least $352 million to former employees and their lawyers but the payout could be as high as $640 million. It is being described as the largest settlement ever over wage violations, though because there are thousands of people involved in the suit each individual is not likely to receive more than a few hundred dollars. Wal-Mart's CEO, H. Lee Scott will step down in February 2009 and hand the reigns to Michael T. Duke.
-- New York Times, 12/23/2008
In August 2001, a New York Wal-Mart worker filed a class-action suit against Wal-Mart on behalf of 20,000 workers in the state claiming that the company forced them to work overtime without pay, sometimes by locking them inside the store after they had clocked out. The lawsuit also claims that the retailer required employees to work through meals and rest breaks. The plaintiffs are asking for unpaid overtime wages, attorneys' fees and the costs of the action. Lawyers for the plaintiff say employees would be intimidated into working the extra hours by being given fewer hours to work or by not getting promotions.
In June 2007, a New York judge rejected class-action status for the lawsuit, stating that each unpaid overtime must be dealt with individually.
-- USA Today, 06/19/2007
The Wall Street Journal reported that Thomas M. Coughlin, former board member and Vice Chairman of Wal-Mart, claims to have operated an “illegal anti-union slush fund” while employed at the company. The fund, he alleges, was part of an actual Wal-Mart program to prevent workers from unionizing in the workplace. According to the Wall Street Journal, if these allegations prove to be true, Wal-Mart would be guilty of violating the federal Taft-Hartly Act, which outlaws efforts to discourage employees from participating in a workers union vis-à-vis monetary coercion.
-- United Food and Commercial Workers, 06/17/2007
In May 2007, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on Wal-Mart's anti-union efforts stating, "While many American companies use weak US laws to stop workers from organizing, the retail giant stands out for the sheer magnitude and aggressiveness of its anti-union apparatus."
In order to prevent unions from forming at its stores, Wal-Mart maintains a Labor Relations Team which it will dispatch to any store where there is a threat of union organizing. The company has an arsenal of propaganda it uses to assist store managers in convincing workers not to organized, including videos on the "dangers" and consequences on forming a union. HRW claims there is a "climate of fear" among Wal-Mart employees that has workers afraid of suffering dire repercussions should they choose to organize.
-- Human Rights Watch, 05/02/2007
Source URL: hrw.org/english/docs/2007/05/01/usdom15797.htm
A Pennsylvania court ordered Wal-Mart to pay workers at least $78.5 million for unpaid hours and denial of breaks. The decision settled a class-action lawsuit brought by 187,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees from as far back as1997. According to lead plaintiff, Dolores Hummel, Wal-Mart management regularly demanded that she work during rest breaks and after store hours. Hummel stated, "One of Wal-Mart's undisclosed secrets for its profitability is its creation and implementation of a system that encourages off-the-clock work for its hourly employees." Wal-Mart intends to appeal the case.
-- Business and Legal Reports, 10/16/2006
Source URL: hr.blr.com/display.cfm/id/19252
The National Labor Committee’s May 2006 report entitled “US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement: Descends into Human Trafficking & Involuntary Servitude,” documents violations of workers’ rights in numerous Jordanian factories. Factories included Al Cap Factory, Al Nahat, Al Shahaed Apparel & Textile, Caliber Garment, Centear Clothing Ltd., Fashion Craft, Hi-Tech, Honorway Jordan Ltd., Ivory Garment , Needle Craft Est., Petra Apparel, Sari Factory Southern Apparel, Topaz, United Garment, and Western Factory, all of which sew garments for Wal-Mart’s discount brand names. The lack of respect for workers’ basic human rights includes:
- Human trafficking and involuntary servitude of guest workers
- Confiscation of workers’ passports and denial of legally required identification cards
- Routine work shifts of 14.5 to 19 hours. In the Caliber Factory, 10 percent of the workers were obligated to participate in all night shifts
- No sick days, paid vacations, or government holidays allowed
- Wages below the legal minimum. At Hi-Tech, workers were cheated of 45 to 80 percent of their wages. Workers at the United Garment factory earned below 10 cents for each shirt shown under Wal-Mart’s labels
- Inadequate and unsanitary working conditions
- Reports of sexual abuse and rape
- Workers subject to violence and threats if production goals not met
A worker at the Ivory Factory said: “We feel like we are dead… worn out, broken and exhausted. Just work, work, work, but no wage, no dollars. Just work, eat poorly and then sleep a few hours. People are getting sick and their health is deteriorating.” Those who spoke out about such conditions were forcibly deported. An Ivory Garment factory worker stated: “No one can speak. Many have been sent back already.”
-- National Labor Committee, 05/01/2006
Source URL: www.nlcnet.org/article.php?id=10
In 2006, Co-op America published "Beyond the Wal-Mart Economy," a comprehensive guide to strategies and resources for helping consumers and communities address the impact of Wal-Mart on workers, communities and the environment . The action guide is available as a free PDF download from https://www.coopamerica.org/PDF/WalMart_Guide.pdf or by calling 1-800-58-GREEN.
-- Co-op America, 04/18/2006
Wal-Mart announced plans to open over 50 in-store health clinics and to alter employee insurance plans in an effort to increase access to health care for its workers in 2006. Changes are to include a reduced waiting period for part-time employees, designating children of part-time employees as eligible for health coverage, and expanding the availability of the lowest cost health care option. Wal-Mart critics argue that these plans are merely a publicity stunt to improve Wal-Mart's increasingly negative public image.
-- Progressive Grocer, 02/24/2006
Source URL: none available
A report released on January 5, 2006 by China Labor Watch and the National Labor Committee revealed that workers at the Donguan Hongyuan shoe factory, making products for New Balance and Wal-Mart, are subject to a range of labor abuses. Workers are paid 41 cents per hour, they work mandatory 14 to 15.8 hour shifts seven days per week including night shifts and they have no regularly scheduled days off. They are required to work 36 hours of overtime without receiving the legally required overtime pay. Housing conditions are poor. Food is contaminated. Female workers have no private showers and must bathe in front of men.
-- China Labor Watch, 01/05/2006
Source URL: www.chinalaborwatch.org
A California court found Wal-Mart guilty of breaking a state labor law requiring employers to allow 30-minute unpaid lunch breaks to employees working shifts longer than 6 hours. The class of plaintiffs numbering 116,000 was awarded $287 million in general and punitive damages.
-- Business and Legal Reports, 12/23/2005
Source URL: hr.blr.com/news.aspx?id=17236
The Lungcheong Toy Factory in Dongguan, China employs 3,000 workers and supplies battery-operated toy cars and trucks to Mattel and Wal-Mart. According to the National Labor Committee (NLC), workers at the Lungcheon factory are denied basic rights through mandatory overtime labor, illegally low wages, lack of health care and termination in the case of injury. A 2005 NLC report called, "Wal-Mart Sweatshop Toys Made in China: 'Always Low Prices' Means Rolling Back Respect for Human Rights," states that Lungcheong's mandatory 13 hour shifts six or seven days a week exceed China's legal limit on work hours by 300 percent. Workers are forced to work overtime and earn only 33 cents an hour, a rate that is 20 percent below minimum wage according to Chinese law.
-- National Labor Committee, 12/01/2005
According to the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF), Wal-Mart workers from around the world came together to sue Wal-Mart in a California Superior Court on September 13, 2005, citing a wide range of labor abuses. Plaintiffs in the case included men and women from California, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nicaragua, and Swaziland who recounted numerous violations of international labor standards under the responsibility of Wal-Mart.
The ILRF claims that Wal-Mart “failed to meet its contractual duty to ensure that its suppliers pay basic wages due; forced [workers] to work excessive hours seven days a week with no time off for holidays; obstructed [workers’] attempts to form a union; and, made false and misleading statements to the American public about the company’s labor and human rights practices.”
According to the ILRF, Wal-Mart presents foreign suppliers with a Supplier Standards Agreement that makes compliance with Wal-Mart’s corporate code of conduct a prerequisite for any supplier-purchaser relationship. The code of conduct inclusion is intended to serve as a built-in protection for workers at foreign factories. Workers have the right to enforce these standards if employers fail to do so, and the ILRF states that the governments of countries represented in this case lack the necessary legal infrastructure to adequately redress grievances related to labor abuses.
-- International Labor Rights Fund, 09/13/2005
According to the Washington Post, Wal-Mart employs approximately 1.3 million workers, of which more than 600,000 are estimated to be without company health insurance. Wal-Mart critics claim that employee wages are too low and insurance premiums so high that even some full-time workers needed and qualified for public assistance such as medicare. In response to such complaints, Democrats in the U.S. Senate introduced the Health Care Accountability Act on June 23, 2005, which would require state governments to report the names of companies with at least 50 workers dependent on government assistance for their health care needs.
The Washington Post reports that Wal-Mart leads the corporate world in terms of employee enrollment in public health care services. The introduction of this act is a major step toward holding Wal-Mart and other large corporations accountable for their employees’ basic health needs, rather than relying on taxpayers to absorb resultant costs.
In April of 2005, the state of Maryland passed a bill requiring Wal-Mart to invest more in employee health care. The bill was subsequently vetoed by the state’s governor, however the legislature brought the bill back and successfully overrode the veto. Other states, such as New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, are taking similar action to change Wal-Mart’s benefits policies. Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts stated, "Every member of Congress has health insurance because they understand the importance of providing for themselves and family. If it's good enough for Congress . . . it's good enough for everyone. Except for Wal-Mart. Every worker in America is paying a part of their taxes to pay for Wal- Mart."
The law was overturned by a Maryland judge in 2006.
-- Washington Post, 06/23/2005
Source URL: none available
In January 2005, Wal-Mart paid $135,540 to settle charges that it violated child labor laws in three states. The settlement covered 24 violations mainly involving workers under the age of 18 operating dangerous machinery including cardboard balers and chain saws in Connecticut, Arkansas and New Hampshire. Wal-Mart agreed in the settlement not to employee any worker under the age of 14 and will not allow any worker under age 18 to operate cardboard balers. The company denied any wrongdoing in the settlement with the Labor Department.
-- MSNBC, 02/12/2005
Source URL: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6958916/rssuserland
In February 2005, Wal-Mart announced it planned to close a Canadian store whose workers were on the verge of becoming the first ever to win a union contract from the company. Wal-Mart said it would close the store in response to unreasonable demands from union negotiators, that would make it impossible for the store to sustain its business. The United Food & Commercial Workers Canada had previously asked Quebec labor officials to appoint a mediator, saying that negotiations had reached an impasse. The store became the first unionized Wal-Mart store in North America in September of 2004, after the bargaining unit was certified by provincial labor officials. Shortly afterwards another Canadian Wal-Mart become certified. Neither store reached a contract.
-- CBS News, 02/07/2005
According to the New York Times "A survey by Georgia officials found that more than 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees were in the state's health program for children at an annual cost of nearly $10 million to taxpayers. A North Carolina hospital found that 31 percent of 1,900 patients who described themselves as Wal-Mart employees were on Medicaid, while an additional 16 percent had no insurance at all." Activists in California also claim that the company's uninsured employees are costing state health care programs an estimated $32 million a year. Wal-Mart disputes the California figures and says it cannot verify the Georgia and North Carolina data.
-- New York Times, 11/01/2004
Source URL: none available
A supervisor at Wal-Mart store 589 in Hillview, Kentucky stated that he was required to report staff members who mentioned trade unions to his manager.
-- Los Angeles Business Journal, 02/09/2004
Source URL: none available
In January 2004, the Associated Press reported that a Wal-Mart internal audit had warned top executives three years prior that employee records at 128 stores showed extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations. A spokesperson for the company told the paper the audit was meaningless, since what looked like violations could simply reflect employees' failure to punch in and out for breaks and meals they took. The audit shows one week's time-clock records for about 25,000 employees. The audit found 1,371 instances in which minors worked too late at night, worked during school hours or worked too many hours in a day, 60,767 apparent instances of workers not taking breaks, and 15,705 apparent instances of employees working through meal times.
-- Associated Press, 01/13/2004
Source URL: none available
On October 23, 2003, 250 illegal workers were arrested outside of 61 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states. Immigration officers also took boxes of documents from Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, in an effort to determine whether or not Wal-Mart should be charged with knowingly employing contractors who were using illegal workers. Nine of the employees arrested during the raids have filed a lawsuit claiming Wal-Mart was aware they were illegal immigrants and violated federal racketeering laws by conspiring with cleaning contractors to pay them low wages.
-- CNN Money, 10/23/2003
According to Business Week, the average Wal-Mart sales clerk earned $8.23 an hour, or $13,861 a year, in 2001, according to documents filed in a pending lawsuit. At the time, the federal poverty line for a family of three was $14,630. The company claims it pays competitively and cites a privately commissioned survey that found that it "meets or exceeds" the total remuneration paid by rival retailers in 50 U.S. markets.
-- Business Week, 10/06/2003
In the first decade after Wal-Mart arrived in Iowa, the state lost 555 grocery stores, 298 hardware stores, 293 building supply stores, 161 variety stores, 158 women's apparel stores, 153 shoe stores, 116 drugstores, and 111 men's and boys' apparel stores.
-- Iowa State University Study, 02/01/2003
Source URL: www.nado.org/pubs/feb032.html
In December 2002, a federal jury in Oregon found Wal-Mart guilty of violating federal and state wage laws by forcing employees to work unpaid overtime between 1994 and 1999. Over 400 employees from 24 Wal-Mart stores in Oregon sued the company. It was the first of several similar suits across the country to come to trial. The lawsuit claimed managers got employees to work off the clock by asking them to clean up the store after they'd clocked out and by deleting hours from time records. The suit also said Wal-Mart reprimanded employees who claimed overtime. An attorney for Wal-Mart had no comment on the verdict.
-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 12/20/2002
Source URL: none available
As of June 2002, Wal-Mart employees and former employees in 28 states had filed a series of class-action and individual lawsuits against the company for forcing or pressuring them to work unpaid overtime. The employees say that they are forced or pressuring into working off-the clock despite the fact that the company's own policy prohibits such actions. In the suits the workers claim that overtime practices helped Wal-Mart undersell its competition and push up profits. The company paid $50 million to settle a class-action suit filed by 69,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees in Colorado in 2000 that alleged Wal-Mart pressured them to work off the clock. However, the company denies that the problem is more than a few isolated incidences. According to a Wal-Mart spokesperson, "Off-the-clock work is an infrequent and isolated problem, which we correct whenever we become aware of it."
-- CBS News, 12/20/2002
Source URL: none available
In August 2001, the National Labor Relations Board started an investigation into allegations that a Texas Wal-Mart harassed employees who tried to start a union. The United Food & Commercial Workers Union claimed that the store's managers told employees they would lose profit-sharing bonuses for signing union cards and restricted employees from soliciting for the union during their breaks.
-- United Food and Commercial Workers, 09/01/2001
Source URL: none available
In 2000, Wal-Mart was charged with illegally telling hourly-paid department managers in a super-center in Texas that they could not engage in union activities. The complaint also cited Wal-Mart for unlawfully creating the impression among employees that their union activities are under surveillance, interrogating employees about their union activities, and soliciting employee grievances. "For years, Wal-Mart has tricked hourly department managers into thinking they were part of the management team and, therefore, obligated to report any signs of union activity in their departments so that union-busters from Bentonville can be summoned to put out the fire," said Michael Leonard, a vice president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).
-- United Food and Commercial Workers, 11/01/2000
In September 2007, Wal-Mart Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that tracks Wal-Mart's impact on communities, released a report called "It's Not Easy Being Green." The report investigates the truth behind Wal-Mart's environmental initiatives aimed at greening the company's image. Wal-Mart Watch made findings such as: despite the big box giant's efforts to cut it's energy usage by 20 percent, the number of new Wal-Mart stores built in 2007 alone released 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air; building new supercenters requires 220,000 square feet of space and parking lots
-- Wal-Mart Watch, 09/17/2007
Ethics and Governance
Wal-Mart prides itself on having a strict ethics policy. But what happens when employees follow procedure and report a possible ethics violation? In the case of Chalace Lowry, it could lead to her having to find a new job. Ms. Lowry, an administrative assistant within Wal-Mart's communications department, filed a complaint after she was asked to copy some papers by her boss, Mona Williams, that she thought were stock reports. A few days later Lowry found out that Wal-Mart was planning a stock-buyback for $15 billion and Lowry became conserned that perhaps Williams was engaged in insider trading. She reported her concerns to the ethics committee and a few days later, after it was revealed to Williams who filed the complaint, she was told she had 60 to 90 days to find a new position in a different department in Wal-Mart or she would have to discuss "next steps" with human resources. Ms. Lowry admits that she didn't know one way or the other whether Williams was committing any violations; she just was following the procedures that were laid out during a training at the beginning of her employment which encourage employees to report any and all suspected ethics violations.
-- Business Week, 06/13/2007
In 2006, Wal-Mart spent $2,480,000 in total lobbying expenditures. For the 2002 election cycle, Wal-Mart gave $976,169 in soft money contributions, all but $100,000 of which went to the Republican Party and candidates. Soft money contributions were banned after the 2002 election.
-- Center for Responsive Politics, 04/20/2007
Source URL: www.opensecrets.org/lobbyists/index.asp
In June 2004, a federal judge approved class-action status for a sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart that could represent as many as 1.6 million current and former female employees of the company. The suit assert that female employees of Wal-Mart have been assigned to the lowest paying positions, which, in turn, provide the least opportunity for advancement. Wal-Mart is accused of habitually denying women the chance for promotion by not informing them of openings and by not giving them the necessary support to advance. The company is further being accused of offering better pay to males, and of assigning women to certain areas of the store based on their sex, such as baby clothes instead of hardware.
After a fierce appeals court battle, a judge reaffirmed the class-action status in February 2007. The case is still pending.
-- Wal-Mart Class, 02/06/2007
According to Global Labor Strategies (GLS), major corporations including Wal-Mart, Google, Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Nike, General Electric, and Intel are “acting through business organizations like the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and the US-China Business Council,” to lobby against China’s Draft Labor Contract Law. This new law aims to secure minimal labor standards for workers, such as enforceable labor contracts, severance pay regulations and negotiating power over workplace procedures and policies. A GLS report entitled: “Behind the Great Wall of China: U.S. Corporations Opposing New Rights for Chinese Workers,” notes that while the law will not eliminate labor problems in China, it is an important step in improving a system where poverty wages, lack of health and safety protections, and the absence of any legal contracts are common for Chinese workers. Organizations representing US companies have threatened to withdraw business from China if such a law is passed.
-- Global Labor Strategies, 10/13/2006
U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz overturned Maryland state law which would have required Wal-Mart and other retailers with more than 10,000 workers in the state to fund employee health care. The district judge ruled that "State laws which impose employee health or welfare mandates on employers are invalid," citing the U.S. Employee Retirement Income Security Act. In Maryland, the “Wal-Mart law” was widely popular; a Washington Post poll conducted in June found 77 percent of registered voters in support of such a provision. The law was challenged by the Retail Industry Leaders Association, represents roughly 400 retailers, including Wal-Mart.
-- Business and Legal Reports, 07/20/2006
Source URL: hr.blr.com/news.aspx?id=18710
With growing criticism surrounding Wal-Mart’s practices, the discount retailer has hired lobbyists in Washington and a team of 35 consultants from Edelman, the world’s largest independently owned public relations company to clean-up the Wal-Mart image. The website www.paidcritics.com was launched in hopes of changing public opinion on the issues raised by Wal-Mart Watch, a nationwide public education campaign comprised of numerous local, national, and international organizations. Contentious issues include Wal-Mart’s employee pay, health care, ethical sourcing and environmental impacts of its operations.
-- Center for Media and Democracy, 06/14/2006
Michigan's attorney general Mike Cox initiated legal action against Wal-Mart after an investigation revealed the company's failure to comply with state pricing laws. Michigan statutes require retailers to label the individual price of each item in order to protect consumers from being overcharged. The investigation found compliance rates at between roughly 75 percent and 20 percent, those being the highest and lowest figures.
Cox and Wal-Mart reached a $1.5 million settlement, of which $100,000 will go to Michigan food banks.
-- Michigan Attorney General, 05/01/2006
The supermarket group Asda, which is owned by Wal-Mart, was ordered to pay £27,750 in a discrimination case involving a group of 37 Asian workers. According to the suit, the workers were singled out and forced to produce proof that they could legally work in Britain because they were of Asian descent. Some of the workers had been with Asda for as many as 18 years.
-- The Independent (London), 03/09/2006
According to the Social Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), ten years after the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission recommended disclosure of diversity data as a way to remove barriers and promote women and minority advancement, most US companies still fail to fully disclose Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) data to the public. Wal-Mart is listed as one of the companies that does not provide full public disclosure. The company provides only partial disclosure.
-- Social Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), 12/07/2005
Source URL: www.siran.org
An internal Wal-Mart memo to the board of directors was published containing controversial proposals for keeping company health care spending low while simultaneously repairing its damaged public image. Proposals ranged from making employees withstand a longer waiting period before joining the company's policy to changing all job descriptions to include some level of physical activity, thereby ensuring the hiring of only healthier workers.
-- National Public Radio (NPR), 10/26/2005
In September 2004, residents of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, protested over the construction of a warehouse-style Bodega Aurrera, a unit of Wal-Mart, on the edge of archaeological ruins. The construction site is less than a mile from the gated tourist park housing the main ruins and is visible from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, a structure that has stood on the site for more than 2,000 years.
Despite protests, the new Wal-Mart site opened in 2004.
-- San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/25/2005
Source URL: www.planetizen.com/node/14720
Wal-Mart received a score of 57 out of 100 on the 2005 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. The Index grades companies on the implementation of laws and policies that discourage sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, and that provide same-sex partner benefits.
-- Human Rights Campaign, 09/01/2005
According to the New York Times, Wal-Mart is facing legal action from a former employee on the grounds of “wrongful discharge, libel, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” James W. Lynn worked as an inspector for Wal-Mart’s garment factories in Central America before being fired on the grounds of fraternizing with another Wal-Mart employee, which is a violation of company policy.
TheNew York Times reports that Lynn claims his termination happened for a very different reason. Upon investigation of Wal-Mart’s facilities in Central America, Lynn found conditions that were in gross violation of Wal-Mart’s own labor standards, including mandatory 24-hour work shifts, padlocked exits, extreme heat, no available drinking water and no toilet paper. Lynn claims that as he diligently reported these violations, it became clear that he was creating a problem for the company. Lynn argues that Wal-Mart relieved him of his duties so as to silence reports of unacceptable working conditions at supplier factories in Central America.
-- New York Times, 06/01/2005
Source URL: www.sweatshopwatch.org/index.php?s=49&n=39
In February 2005, Wal-Mart was ordered to pay $7.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages to a former employee with cerebral palsy and who claimed he was reassigned from a job in the company's pharmacy department to garbage duty. A Wal-Mart spokesperson stated, "Wal-Mart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We are optimistic that the award will be substantially reduced or eliminated altogether."
In June 2005, a judge reduced the verdict to $2.8 million, due to the $300,000 cap on punitive damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
-- Wake-Up Wal-Mart, 02/25/2005
Source URL: www.wakeupwalmart.com/news/20050623-law.html
In May 2004, Good Jobs First showed that Wal-Mart has received more than $1 billion in economic development subsidies from states for its stores. The subsidies have come as many states are forced by White House tax cuts and reductions in federal grants to make tough budget decisions. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows states are cutting subsidies for publicly funded health insurance, child care, federal employment, both higher and lower education, and programs aimed at public safety and people with disabilities. Taxpayer dollars continue to subsidize Wal-Mart, who took in more than $200 billion in revenue and netted nearly $9 billion in profits last year, while paying worker near-poverty wages and violating environmental regulations.
-- Progress Report, 05/28/2004
Source URL: www.goodjobsfirst.org/pdf/wmtstudy.pdf
In May 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released its list of endangered historic sites, which included the entire state of Vermont. According to the trust, the primary reason for this designation was Wal-Mart's aggressive plans for expansion in the state, which would threaten its unique small-town character. They further contend that the arrival of new Wal-Marts would decimate small businesses and town centers, create poverty-level jobs, and have severe negative environmental impact.
-- National Trust for Historic Preservation, 05/25/2004
Source URL: www.nationaltrust.org/11Most/list.asp?i=163
In April 2003, California announced Wal-Mart would temporarily halt firearms sales within the state after justice officials found nearly 500 violations of gun laws by six stores in one month. Investigators found the stores guilty of illegal sales to felons, releasing firearms to buyers before the 10-day waiting period and background checks were completed, and failures to identify purchasers through thumbprints and a driver's license, as required by state law.
-- Christian Science Monitor, 04/11/2003
Source URL: www.csmonitor.com/2003/0411/p04s01-usgn.html
In August 2001, Wal-Mart announced it had agreed to comply with Wisconsin's fair pricing law as a settlement to a complaint filed by the state in 2000 alleging the retail giant was selling some items below cost to drive out competitors. The retailer will also donate $15,000 to a high school consumer education contest. Wal-Mart did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement.
-- Associated Press, 08/13/2001
Source URL: none available
According to Business Week, "Based on filings Wal-Mart made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, ...72 percent of the company's sales staff are women but only one-third of them make it into management, despite Wal-Mart's promote-from-within policy. That means, according to EEOC data, that Wal-Mart doesn't just rank below its current retailing peers, which have an average of 56 percent women managers, but it also ranks below rivals' levels of 25 years ago."
-- Business Week, 07/16/2001
In June 2001, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed its 16th federal lawsuit against Wal-Mart. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Wal-Mart "greeter" who said she was fired after the company refused to let her sit occasionally while working due to her knee problems, violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Earlier in the month, Wal-Mart was ordered by a federal judge to air commercials in Arizona admitting it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act after the judge ruled it didn't fulfill terms of a settlement of a suit filed by the EEOC over the company's refusal to hire two deaf men.
-- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 06/21/2001
Source URL: www.eeoc.gov/press/6-21-01.html
Wal-Mart has been accused by a Texas judge of inappropriate behavior during a number of lawsuits filed against the company. In a lawsuit involving a girl who was burnt after her clothes purchased at Wal-Mart caught fire, the judge found that the company had "repeatedly concealed documents and witnesses." The judge acknowledged nine additional cases in where Wal-Mart was found of noncompliance of court rules.
-- Associated Press, 02/14/2001
Source URL: www.txattorneys.com/news-21.html
In 2006, President and CEO H. Lee Scott made $29,672,533 in total compensation from Wal-Mart. Scott has another $4,537,582 in unexercised stock options from previous years.
-- AFL-CIO, 06/27/1905
Health and Safety
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetic released a report in March 2009 that revealed 23 out of the 28 children’s bath products they tested contained formaldehyde, a chemical that increases skin sensitivity and irritates nasal and respiratory passages in addition to being considered a probable carcinogen by the EPA. 32 of 48 tested products contained 1,4-dioxane, which is also considered a probable human carcinogen by the EPA and a byproduct of the chemical processes used to make petroleum-based ingredients gentler to the skin. Nearly two-thirds of all tested products contained both of these harmful toxins. Brands tested in this study include Bath & Body Works (Limited Brands), Johnson & Johnson, CVS/Pharmacy, Unilever, L’Oreal, Wal-Mart, Kimberly-Clark, Target, Costco and Procter & Gamble. Organic Consumers Association has also recently released a report on brands that have sharply reduced levels of 1,4-dioxane since March 2008 that include 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods), Earth Friendly Products, Ecco Bella, Giovanni, Jason, Johnson & Johnson, Kiss My Face, Life Tree, Method, Nature’s Gate, Planet Ultra, and Seventh Generation.
-- USA Today, 03/12/2009
A three-year investigation by the AFL-CIO affiliated Solidarity Center found several leading U.S. retailers received shrimp from plants in Thailand and Bangladesh where workers as young as 8 are subject to sweatshop conditions. Some of the most popular retailers in America are named in this report, including Wal-Mart, Costco and Trader Joe's. The center found instances of sexual and physical abuse, debt bondage, child labor and unsafe working conditions are common in Thailand and Bangladesh's shrimp processing factories, and that Thai plants often use trafficked workers. The Solidarity Center's findings were supported by the State Department, which shares concerns about human trafficking in Thailand and worker abuse in both countries.
-- CNN, 04/24/2008
Health and Safety
Wal-Mart is the focus of a criminal investigation into whether the company has been violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Federal prosecutors are looking into accusations that Wal-Mart has been improperly transporting hazardous waste from its retail sites to waste facilities, failing to utilize certified vehicles that safely carry hazardous materials directly to specially designated sites.
-- Reuters, 12/20/2005
In November 2004, Wal-Mart was ordered to pay $765,000 in fines for violating state petroleum storage tank laws at its automobile service centers in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection the company failed to register with the state the above ground fuel tanks at all 75 of its Tire & Lube Express service centers in Florida and didn't install devices that prevent overflows, among other problems.
-- Wal-Mart Watch, 11/18/2004
Source URL: walmartwatch.com/issues/environment/
In May 2004, Wal-Mart was fined $3.1 million for violations of the Clean Water Act at 24 construction sites. The violations involved excessive storm water runoff, which carries sediment, pesticides, chemicals, solvents and other toxic substances into waterways. The settlement covered allegations that the company failed to get permits before construction, had not developed plans to control polluted runoff water and did not install required controls to prevent discharges.The company had been fined $1 million for violations of the Clean Water Act at different construction sites in 2001.
-- Environmental Protection Agency, 05/12/2004
In April 2003, Wal-Mart agreed to pay a $750,000 penalty to settle a government lawsuit that said the company failed to report safety hazards from defective exercise "glider" machines. In May 2001, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Justice Department accused Wal-Mart of failing to report hazards with Weider and Weslo brand exercise gliders, despite knowing of at least 29 consumers who were injured while trying the equipment in Wal-Mart stores. Injuries included fractured vertebrae, herniated discs and a compression injury to a woman's spine.
-- U.S. Department of Justice, 04/25/2003
Source URL: www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2003/April/03_civ_258.htm
Ethics and Governance
In 2004, Multinational Monitor named Wal-Mart as one of the "10 Worst Corporations of 2004." The company earned this listing over a 2004 report filed by Rep. George Miller (D-California) which illustrated how the company blocks unionizing efforts, pays employees $8.23 per hours--as opposed to the over $10 an hour for an average supermarket worker, extracts off-the-clock work from employees, and provides unaffordable and inadequate healthcare. Additionally, according to
-- Multinational Monitor, 12/01/2004
The National Organization for Women (NOW) has declared Wal-Mart a Merchant of Shame. Among the complaints against the company were charges of unequal pay and promotion for female employees, the exclusion of contraception coverage in the employee's health benefits, and the fact that the retail chain does not sell Preven, commonly known as the "morning-after pill" for women, but it does carry Viagra.
-- National Organization for Women, 05/11/2001
Source URL: www.now.org/issues/wfw/wal-mart.html