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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

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=== Wal-Mart's Business Model === === Wal-Mart's Business Model ===
-Wal-Mart aims to deliver the broadest selection of products at the lowest prices.+Wal-Mart's stated aim is "to deliver the broadest selection of products at the lowest prices."
-Wal-Mart's success is dependent on its numerous [http://www.walmartwiki.com/index.php/Supply_chain_management supply chain management] innovations over the past several decades. In the early 1980s, Wal-Mart was one of the first stores to start wide-spread use of barcodes to facilitate inventory tracking; today, Wal-Mart's focus on [http://www.walmartwiki.com/index.php/Vendor-managed_inventory vendor-managed inventory] helps it avoid maintaining large inventories of products, which helps keep costs down. As of 2004, Wal-Mart is aggressively [http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-NG.asp?id=51813 piloting] the use of Radio Frequency Identification ([http://www.walmartwiki.com/index.php/RFID RFID]) chips for purposes of more accurately tracking products as they arrive at distribution centers.+Wal-Mart's success is dependent on its supply chain management innovations over the past several decades. In the early 1980s, Wal-Mart was one of the first stores to start wide-spread use of barcodes to facilitate inventory tracking; today, Wal-Mart's focus on vendor-managed inventory helps it avoid maintaining large inventories of products, which helps keep costs down. As of 2004, Wal-Mart is aggressively [http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-NG.asp?id=51813 piloting] the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips for purposes of more accurately tracking products as they arrive at distribution centers.
-Wal-Mart's goal is to work closely with vendor suppliers to reduce the costs of products on the shelves; given Wal-Mart's size, they can purchase tremendous volumes of products from suppliers (which ensures the lowest possible price). In addition, they tightly manage the logistics of the order, delivery and stocking of products in their stores, which helps keep inventory costs to a minimum. Finally, Wal-Mart applies tremendous pressure to suppliers to constantly ''lower'' their prices each year on products that do not change. ([http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html source])+Wal-Mart's goal is to work closely with vendor suppliers to reduce the costs of products on the shelves; given Wal-Mart's size, they can purchase tremendous volumes of products from suppliers (which ensures the lowest possible price). In addition, they tightly manage the logistics of the order, delivery and stocking of products in their stores, which helps keep inventory costs to a minimum. Finally, Wal-Mart applies tremendous pressure to suppliers to constantly ''lower'' their prices each year on products that do not change. ([http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html source]) Critics have cited this practice as continually forcing manufacturers towards cheaper, less-sanctioned labor.
-Wal-Mart also works hard to keep its labor costs low, another factor in delivering low prices to shoppers. As noted above, Wal-Mart employees on average earn less than their counterparts. In addition, fewer than half of Wal-Mart's employees are [http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2004/07/25/rivalry_between_wal_mart_costco_also_extends_to_national_politics/ enrolled] in Wal-Mart's health plan, and all employees who wish to participate are required [http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript247_full.html to pay] $250 or more per month. Consequently, Wal-Mart keeps its costs low by choosing not to subsidize its employees' health costs, a decision that keeps its own costs low but comes at a cost to taxpayers. (By one estimate, taxpayers in California subsidize Wal-Mart employees health costs by more than $20 million each year.)+Wal-Mart also "works hard to keep its labor costs low", another factor in delivering low prices to shoppers. As noted above, Wal-Mart employees on average earn less than their counterparts. In addition, fewer than half of Wal-Mart's employees are [http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2004/07/25/rivalry_between_wal_mart_costco_also_extends_to_national_politics/ enrolled] in Wal-Mart's health plan, and all employees who wish to participate are required [http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript247_full.html to pay] $250 or more per month.
 + 
 +Consequently, Wal-Mart keeps its costs low by choosing not to subsidize its employees' health costs, a decision that keeps its own costs low but comes at a cost to taxpayers. (By one estimate, taxpayers in California subsidize Wal-Mart employees health costs by more than $20 million each year.)
[[Image:Wal-mart-712726.jpg|thumb|right|300px|Anti Wal-Mart billboard.]] [[Image:Wal-mart-712726.jpg|thumb|right|300px|Anti Wal-Mart billboard.]]
-<b>What Wal-Mart Sells</b> 
- 
-Wal-Mart is well-known for working closely with its vendors to ensure that it can live up to its motto: "Always low prices." Below are some of the major categories that Wal-Mart sells, and each category includes links to the vendors with whom Wal-Mart does business. 
- 
-* Electronics 
-* Garden and Patio 
-* Apparel 
-* Sports 
-* Jewelry 
-* Sporting Goods 
-* Toys 
- 
-<b>Wal-Mart's Competitors</b> 
- 
-* Costco 
-* Target 
-* K-Mart 
-* Kroger 
-* Toys 'R Us 
-* Meijer 
=== Statistics === === Statistics ===

Revision as of 20:28, 19 December 2007

Corporate Statistics
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. logo
Worker Rights Human Rights Political Influence Environmental Business Ethics

This company has areas of concern around Worker Rights, Human Rights, Political Influence, Environmental Issues, and Business Ethics. KnowMore Users are urged to boycott this company.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

702 S.W. Eighth Street Bentonville AZ USA
72716
479-273-4000
http://www.walmart.com
walmartstores.com

Type:

Public

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates retail stores in various formats around the world. It organizes its business into three segments: Wal-Mart Stores, SAM'S CLUB and International.

As of September, 2004, Wal-Mart's market capitalization is over $221 billion, based on trailing twelve month revenues of $274.13 billion. Over the same time period, Wal-Mart's gross profit was nearly $60 billion. According to Reuters, Wal-Mart employs more than 1.5 million people world-wide. None of those employees in the United States belong to a labor union, and only one store (in Quebec, Canada) is unionized. (See Wal-Mart and Unions for more information.)

Contents

About Wal-Mart

German Wal-Mart.
German Wal-Mart.

Some Statistics about Wal-Mart

  • Wal-Mart is the largest company in the world.
  • Wal-Mart is the largest grocery chain in the United States, with estimates that by 2007 it will have nearly 40% of all grocery sales. (source)
  • Wal-Mart is the largest toy store in the world. (source)
  • Wal-Mart is the largest reatiler in the world. (source)
  • Wal-Mart is #1 on the Fortune 500 list. (source)
  • Wal-Mart employees earn, on average, 25% less than employees at competing grocery stores and discount stores. (source)
  • Wal-Mart gives more money to Republican politicians in the United States than any other company. (source) (see Political Contributions for more info)
  • Wal-Mart accounts for more than 10% of all Chinese exports to the United States. (source)
  • In the second-half of the 1990s, 12% of the U.S. economy's productivity gains are attributable to Wal-Mart alone.
  • In 2002, 7.5 cents of every dollar spent at United States stores (excluding auto stores) went to Wal-Mart. (source)

Wal-Mart's Business Model

Wal-Mart's stated aim is "to deliver the broadest selection of products at the lowest prices."

Wal-Mart's success is dependent on its supply chain management innovations over the past several decades. In the early 1980s, Wal-Mart was one of the first stores to start wide-spread use of barcodes to facilitate inventory tracking; today, Wal-Mart's focus on vendor-managed inventory helps it avoid maintaining large inventories of products, which helps keep costs down. As of 2004, Wal-Mart is aggressively piloting the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips for purposes of more accurately tracking products as they arrive at distribution centers.

Wal-Mart's goal is to work closely with vendor suppliers to reduce the costs of products on the shelves; given Wal-Mart's size, they can purchase tremendous volumes of products from suppliers (which ensures the lowest possible price). In addition, they tightly manage the logistics of the order, delivery and stocking of products in their stores, which helps keep inventory costs to a minimum. Finally, Wal-Mart applies tremendous pressure to suppliers to constantly lower their prices each year on products that do not change. (source) Critics have cited this practice as continually forcing manufacturers towards cheaper, less-sanctioned labor.

Wal-Mart also "works hard to keep its labor costs low", another factor in delivering low prices to shoppers. As noted above, Wal-Mart employees on average earn less than their counterparts. In addition, fewer than half of Wal-Mart's employees are enrolled in Wal-Mart's health plan, and all employees who wish to participate are required to pay $250 or more per month.

Consequently, Wal-Mart keeps its costs low by choosing not to subsidize its employees' health costs, a decision that keeps its own costs low but comes at a cost to taxpayers. (By one estimate, taxpayers in California subsidize Wal-Mart employees health costs by more than $20 million each year.)

Anti Wal-Mart billboard.
Anti Wal-Mart billboard.

Statistics

  • Wal-Mart is the largest company in the world.
  • Wal-Mart is the largest grocery chain in the United States, with estimates that by 2007 it will have nearly 40% of all grocery sales. (source)
  • Wal-Mart is the largest toy store in the world. (source)
  • Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world. (source)
  • Wal-Mart is #1 on the Fortune 500 list. (source)
  • Wal-Mart operates Wal-Mart TV, the in-store TV network that ranks 5th among broadcast networks in terms of total viewership. (source)
  • Wal-Mart employees earn, on average, 25% less than employees at competing grocery stores and discount stores. (source)
  • Wal-Mart gives more money to Republican politicians in the United States than any other company. (source) (see Political Contributions for more info)
  • Wal-Mart accounts for more than 10% of all Chinese exports to the United States. (source)
  • In the second-half of the 1990s, 12% of the U.S. economy's productivity gains are attributable to Wal-Mart alone.
  • In 2002, 7.5 cents of every dollar spent at United States stores (excluding auto stores) went to Wal-Mart. (source)

Wal-Mart Lingo

Wal-Mart Lingo A.K.A. How To Speak Like Wal-Mart

  • Department Codes -- Each department in Wal-Mart is assigned a two-digit code for associates and managers to reference. This is an incomplete list of Wal-Mart Department Codes.
  • "exception" -- problem
  • "exception management" -- dealing with a problem
  • "shrink" or "shrinkage" -- stolen or shoplifted goods. Often stores experience their highest rates of "shrinkage" during overnight hours, if they're open 24 hours.

How Other People Talk About Wal-Mart

Studies

Studies and Reports Regarding Wal-Mart

Business Model

Wal-Mart's Business Model

Wal-Mart aims to deliver the broadest selection of products at the lowest prices.

Wal-Mart's success is dependent on its numerous supply chain management innovations over the past several decades. In the early 1980s, Wal-Mart was one of the first stores to start wide-spread use of barcodes to facilitate inventory tracking; today, Wal-Mart's focus on vendor-managed inventory helps it avoid maintaining large inventories of products, which helps keep costs down. As of 2004, Wal-Mart is aggressively piloting the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips for purposes of more accurately tracking products as they arrive at distribution centers.

Wal-Mart's goal is to work closely with vendor suppliers to reduce the costs of products on the shelves; given Wal-Mart's size, they can purchase tremendous volumes of products from suppliers (which ensures the lowest possible price). In addition, they tightly manage the logistics of the order, delivery and stocking of products in their stores, which helps keep inventory costs to a minimum. Finally, Wal-Mart applies tremendous pressure to suppliers to constantly lower their prices each year on products that do not change. (source)

Wal-Mart also works hard to keep its labor costs low, another factor in delivering low prices to shoppers. See Labor Costs for more specifics.

The company believes each Wal-Mart store, SAM'S CLUB and distribution center has a responsibility to contribute to the well being of the local community. Last year, the company contributed more than $170 million to support communities and local non-profit organizations. (source) Learn more about transportation and logistics

Vendor Relations

BUYER AND VENDOR: Supplier Stan Adler presents new fashions to a Wal-Mart buyer. The retailer is always looking for cheaper supply sources. (photo: Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times)
BUYER AND VENDOR: Supplier Stan Adler presents new fashions to a Wal-Mart buyer. The retailer is always looking for cheaper supply sources. (photo: Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times)

Wal-Mart maintains a detailed website that provides an overview of how to be a supplier to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's aim of delivering the lowest possible prices to its customers is often achieved by exerting tremendous influence on its suppliers; as the world's largest company (not to mention the largest retailer in the world, the largest grocery store in the U.S., largest toy store in the U.S., etc.; see Statistics for more), it can often demand lower prices than other businesses are able to.

In a December, 2003 article in Fast Company, Wal-Mart's influence in purchasing was highlighted.

The real story of Wal-Mart, the story that never gets told, is the story of the pressure the biggest retailer relentlessly applies to its suppliers in the name of bringing us "every day low prices." It's the story of what that pressure does to the companies Wal-Mart does business with, to U.S. manufacturing, and to the economy as a whole.
...
By now, it is accepted wisdom that Wal-Mart makes the companies it does business with more efficient and focused, leaner and faster. Wal-Mart itself is known for continuous improvement in its ability to handle, move, and track merchandise. It expects the same of its suppliers. But the ability to operate at peak efficiency only gets you in the door at Wal-Mart. Then the real demands start. The public image Wal-Mart projects may be as cheery as its yellow smiley-face mascot, but there is nothing genial about the process by which Wal-Mart gets its suppliers to provide tires and contact lenses, guns and underarm deodorant at every day low prices. Wal-Mart is legendary for forcing its suppliers to redesign everything from their packaging to their computer systems. It is also legendary for quite straightforwardly telling them what it will pay for their goods. (source: "The Wal-Mart You Don't Know", by Charles Fishman, Fast Company. December 2003, p. 68.)

Niche Consulting for Wal-Mart

Given Wal-Mart's retail power, consulting businesses offer Wal-Mart focused services.

The NPD Group, a leading market research consulting firm, provides a "Wal-Mart In-Depth Toy Report" that offers custom market research on Wal-Mart's toy sales.

Criticisms of Wal-Mart's Vendor Relations

Wal-Mart's relentless push to lower prices can have another unintended (but predictable) consequence: manufacturing companies outsource more manufacturing jobs, and companies may cut corners to meet Wal-Mart's price cuts:

For suppliers, working with Wal-Mart is a mixed bag. On the plus side, Wal-Mart will agree to large-scale, long-term contracts in return for lowered costs. That can motivate firms to seek ways to cut costs and improve their productivity.
But there are minuses. Wal-Mart's relentless cost pressure can lead vendors to cut corners, Allen says. For instance, in an effort to pare labor costs, a maker might end up sourcing through countries that have low safety and environmental standards and poor labor conditions. (source: "Wal-Mart's Low-Price Obsession Puts Suppliers Through Wringer", by Marilyn Much, Investor's Business Daily. January 30, 2004.)

Wal-Mart Statement of Ethics

Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

THREE BASIC BELIEFS

“Three Basic Beliefs” were established by Sam Walton when he founded Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. As outlined in the company's Statement of Ethics they are:

  • Respect for the Individual
  • Service to our Customers
  • Strive for Excellence

GUIDING ETHICAL PRINCIPLES

Following the three basic beliefs, Wal-Mart outlines its guiding ethical principles for Associates and Directors:

  • Follow the law at all times;
  • Be honest and fair;
  • Never manipulate, misrepresent, abuse or conceal information;
  • Avoid conflicts of interest between work and personal affairs;
  • Never discriminate against anyone;
  • Never act unethically - even if someone else instructs you to do so;
  • Never ask someone to act unethically;
  • Seek assistance if you have questions about this Statement of Ethics or if you face an ethical dilemma;
  • Cooperate with any investigation of a possible ethics violation; and
  • Report ethics violations or suspected violations

Board of Directors

  • James W. Breyer
  • M. Michele Burns
  • David D. Glass
  • Roland A. Hernandez
  • Dawn G. Lepore
  • John D. Opie
  • J. Paul Reason
  • H. Lee Scott, Jr
  • Jack C. Shewmaker
  • Jose H. Villarreal
  • John T. Walton
  • S. Robson Walton
  • Christopher J. Williams

Senior Officers

  • M. Susan Chambers
  • Robert F. Connolly
  • Thomas M. Coughlin
  • Douglas J. Degn
  • David J. Dible
  • Linda M. Dillman
  • Michael T. Duke
  • Joseph J. Fitzsimmons
  • Rollin L. Ford
  • David D. Glass
  • James H. Haworth
  • Craig R. Herkert
  • Charles M. Holley
  • Thomas D. Hyde
  • C. Douglas McMillon
  • John B. Menzer
  • Thomas M. Schoewe
  • H. Lee Scott, Jr.
  • Gregory E. Spragg
  • Celia M. Swanson
  • B. Kevin Turner
  • S. Robson Walton
  • Claire A. Watts

The Walton Family

Wal-Mart Stock Ownership

People gather at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark., for the annual Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shareholders meeting. -AP Photo
People gather at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark., for the annual Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shareholders meeting. -AP Photo

BREAKDOWN

% of Shares Held by All Insider and 5% Owners:
39%
% of Shares Held by Institutional & Mutual Fund Owners:
37%
% of Float Held by Institutional & Mutual Fund Owners:
61%
Number of Institutions Holding Shares:
10

TOP INSIDER & RULE 144 HOLDERS

Holder Shares Reported WALTON, JOHN T. 18,087,337 4-Jun-04

WALTON, S. ROBSON 8,949,205 16-Dec-03

WALTON, ST/JT TTEES 8,096,226 19-Dec-02

SHEWMAKER, JACK C. 2,672,470 4-Jun-04

GLASS, DAVID D. 1,578,345 14-May-04

TOP INSTITUTIONAL HOLDERS

Holder Shares % Out Value* Reported
Barclays Bank Plc 135,721,734 3.16 $8,101,230,633 31-Mar-04
State Street Corporation 108,327,581 2.53 $6,466,073,574 31-Mar-04
Vanguard Group, Inc. (The) 86,309,585 2.01 $5,151,819,339 31-Mar-04
FMR Corporation (Fidelity Management & Research Corp) 84,736,655 1.98 $5,057,931,143 31-Mar-04
Northern Trust Corporation 51,164,270 1.19 $3,053,995,401 31-Mar-04
Mellon Bank, N.A. 40,587,001 0.95 $2,422,638,188 31-Mar-04
Axa 40,015,508 0.93 $2,388,525,770 31-Mar-04
Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft 33,228,838 0.77 $1,983,429,421 31-Mar-04
Goldman Sachs Group Inc 26,449,804 0.62 $1,578,788,865 31-Mar-04
Bank of America Corporation 26,099,916 0.61 $1,557,904,049 31-Mar-04

TOP MUTUAL FUND HOLDERS

Holder Shares % Out Value* Reported
Vanguard 500 Index Fund 39,072,961 0.91 $2,072,820,581 31-Dec-03
Fidelity Magellan Fund Inc 20,087,840 0.47 $1,121,905,864 30-Sep-03
SPDR Trust Series 1 17,112,237 0.4 $955,718,436 30-Sep-03
College Retirement Equities Fund-Stock Account 16,958,237 0.4 $899,634,472 31-Dec-03
Vanguard Institutional Index Fund-Institutional Index Fd 16,016,757 0.37 $849,688,958 31-Dec-03
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund 13,996,723 0.33 $742,526,155 31-Dec-03
Fidelity Growth & Income Portfolio 11,982,600 0.28 $645,263,010 31-Jan-04
American Century Ultra 9,633,000 0.22 $511,030,650 31-Dec-03
Putnam Voyager Fund 9,601,500 0.22 $517,040,775 31-Jan-04
Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund 7,855,155 0.18 $423,000,096 31-Jan-04

1 Barclays Global Investors, N.A. 135,721,734 -2,066,278 7,258,398,334 1.39 3.18 03-31-04
2 SSgA Funds Management 100,312,117 -1,514,799 5,364,692,017 1.47 2.35 03-31-04
3 Vanguard Group 86,856,174 546,589 4,645,068,186 1.66 2.03 06-30-04
4 Fidelity Management & Research Co. 84,736,655 18,835,190 4,531,716,309 0.82 1.99 03-31-04
5 Northern Trust Global Investments 51,164,270 531,403 2,736,265,160 1.62 1.20 03-31-04
6 Alliance Capital Management 39,716,403 -10,061,679 2,124,033,232 0.92 0.93 03-31-04
7 Goldman Sachs Asset Management (US) 26,449,804 1,202,735 1,414,535,518 1.15 0.62 03-31-04
8 Mellon Bank Asset Mgmt. (Mellon Capita... 25,175,570 -1,279,543 1,346,389,484 1.61 0.59 06-30-04
9 Capital Research & Management Co. 24,821,000 1,067,000 1,327,427,080 0.28 0.58 03-31-04
10 Deutsche Bank Investment Management, I... 23,553,212 5,580,110 1,259,625,778 1.19 0.55 03-31-04
11 Putnam Investment Management, Inc. 22,878,544 -1,626,448 1,223,544,533 0.91 0.54 03-31-04
12 PDR Services LLC 22,032,555 -659,841 1,178,301,041 2.23 0.52 04-30-04
13 TIAA-CREF Investment Management LLC 21,692,177 -2,751,862 1,160,097,626 0.87 0.51 06-30-04
14 California Public Employees Retirement... 20,288,068 -142,800 1,085,005,877 1.96 0.48 06-30-04
15 Wellington Management Co. LLP 18,016,237 11,400,790 963,508,355 0.42 0.42 03-31-04

1 Vanguard 500 Index Fund 39,072,961 955,200 2,089,621,954 2.26 0.92 12-31-03
2 Fidelity Magellan Fund 20,887,840 800,000 1,117,081,683 1.73 0.49 03-31-04
3 SPDR Series-SPDR Trust Series 1 17,112,237 -1,055,977 915,162,435 2.30 0.40 09-30-03
4 CREF Stock Account 16,958,237 -2,875,068 906,926,515 0.93 0.40 12-31-03
5 Vanguard Institutional Index Fund 16,016,757 -332,074 856,576,164 2.26 0.38 12-31-03
6 Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund 13,996,723 1,692,030 748,544,746 1.78 0.33 12-31-03
7 Fidelity Growth & Income Portfolio 11,982,600 -2,216,800 640,829,448 2.13 0.28 01-31-04
8 Putnam Voyager Fund 9,601,500 45,911 513,488,220 3.20 0.23 01-31-04
9 American Century Ultra Fund 8,205,000 -2,334,600 438,803,400 1.93 0.19 04-30-04
10 Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund 7,855,155 -1,028,600 420,093,689 1.91 0.18 01-31-04
11 Fidelity Spartan US Equity Index Fund 7,531,194 257,903 402,768,255 2.26 0.18 02-29-04
12 AXP Growth Trends Portfolio 7,000,000 -5,000,000 374,360,000 2.26 0.16 01-31-04
13 American Funds American Balanced 6,300,000 6,300,000 336,924,000 1.15 0.15 12-31-03
14 Oppenheimer Quest Balanced Fund 5,500,000 5,500,000 294,140,000 4.28 0.13 04-30-04
15 Vanguard Growth Index Fund 5,131,374 -23,700 274,425,882 3.00 0.12 12-31-03

POSITION The total number of shares held by the filing company as of the Report Date.

POSITION CHANGE The quarterly change in number of shares held by the filing institution.

$MKT VAL The market value of the particular equity or particular industry held by the filing institution as of the Report Date.

% OF PORT The percent of the filing institution's equity portfolio held in this security or sector.

% O/S The percent of the outstanding common shares held by this filing institution.

Report Date The effective date of the filing. If a company files its 9-30-00 holdings on 10-15-00, the Report Date will be 9-30-00.

Shareholder Actions

  • 1998 Resolution at Wal-Mart: Compliance with its labor standards for overseas suppliers. This case illustrates how drafting an overly-specific resolution can give grounds for a company to omit a shareholder proposal. Whereas the SEC approved a more general resolution at Dillard's Inc. on labor standards of overseas suppliers, this resolution specifically asked for a company report on wages, which the SEC viewed as an ordinary employment issue.
  • Shareholder's rebuttal - the shareholder rebuts each of the cited cases, and demonstrates that the issue is not mundane, nor lacking in policy significance. The proponent cites news articles, consumer studies, Congressional and White House activity, etc.
  • Wal-Mart's final response - the company cites past SEC rulings demonstrating that tying social issues to employment issues doesn't take employment matters out of the realm of ordinary business.

Employee Relations

Overview

A union member wears a mock employees vest to protest a speech Wal-Mart President and CEO Thomas Coughlin was making to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick March 17, 2003 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
A union member wears a mock employees vest to protest a speech Wal-Mart President and CEO Thomas Coughlin was making to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick March 17, 2003 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Wal-Mart exerts considerable influence in the status of employee relations in America (not just for Wal-Mart employees, but by nature of its size, all employees). Consider this statement from a recent article:

The entity that increasingly sets the pattern for the wages and benefits of America's workers is Wal-Mart. ...
With the U.S. economy increasingly dominated by service-sector jobs, the wages of those jobs will determine whether America can remain a middle-class nation. Paying its workers an estimated $10 an hour less than the supermarket chains do, dragging down retail wages here and production wages across the planet, Wal-Mart presents a massive threat both to the nation's middle class and to the development of a global middle class. (Wal-Mart Nation, by Harold Meyerson. The American Prospect, January 1, 2004.) [link])

As Wal-Mart continues to grow and continues to exert downward pressure on wages, labor experts predict that:

Wal-Mart's ability to escape controversy and a possible consumer backlash depends on the balance it can strike between its two, distinctly different images: The first is of the big and friendly retailer, ally of the little-guy consumer. The other is of an unfeeling giant putting the squeeze on its little-guy employees. (Two Faces of Wal-Mart by Amy Tsao. Business Week, January 28, 2004.) [link])

Wal-Mart Discriminates against hiring those with criminal backgrounds

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, HANNIBAL COURIER POST
-copy- for riverpost and internet blogs
Certain area businesses discriminate in employment hiring and opportunities. A Missouri based organization, CFTA, has been working in cooperation with the ACLU to help those being treated unfairly in the hiring or firing discrimination. Those who are affected by this discrimination come from primarily one group of society. Those who have violated the law in some way or fashion, whether it be a misdemeanor or felony.
These companies will soon find themselves with severe fines and penalties and pending litigation by the ACLU and MO Dept of Labor and Mo. Commission on Human Rights.
The list of companies in Hannibal included but are not limited to Swiss Colony, Manpower, Wal-Mart, Radio-Shack, Sprint, Watlow, McDonald's Corporation, General Mills, Buckhorn, USBank, TRUE Manufacturing (Bowling Green, St. Charles MO)…
Unfortunately, some of these companies, to protect themselves will hire the person for a short period of time, then let them go, so they can report that they have not been discriminating...

Labor Standards

Congressman George Miller releases a report on Wal-Mart's labor abuses and hidden costs.
Congressman George Miller releases a report on Wal-Mart's labor abuses and hidden costs.

Summary

While Wal-Mart highlights the value it brings to the consumer -- always low prices -- much has been documented about the treatment of their U.S. employees. WalMart workers earn much less than their unionized counterparts, are only allowed to work about 32 hours a week with no overtime, and often have difficulty receiving their benefits.

Here are some articles about labor standards.

Working Conditions in the U.S.

While working conditions in the U.S. do not come anywhere near the difficult conditions some foreign workers must endure, American employees of Walmart still endure poorer working conditions than their counterparts at other retail boxstores and grocery stores.

Although they are the largest employer in the United States, WalMart wages for workers fall well below union wages and other retail workers. In addition, WalMart workers are less likely to receive health benefits, and a full time schedule for most associates is only 32 hours a week - with no overtime.

The hidden cost of working at WalMart is the dependence by many WalMart workers on public assistance - costing tax-payers millions of dollars every year.

From Wal-Mart’s Labor Record, a report by Representative George Miller, February 16, 2004:

Wal-Mart is undercutting labor standards at home and abroad, while those federal officials charged with protecting labor standards have been largely indifferent. Public outcry against Wal-Mart’s labor practices has been answered by the company with a cosmetic response. Wal-Mart has attempted to offset its labor record with advertising campaigns utilizing employees (who are euphemistically called 'associates') to attest to Wal-Mart’s employment benefits and support of local communities. Nevertheless – whether the issue is basic organizing rights of workers, or wages, or health benefits, or working conditions, or trade policy – Wal-Mart has come to represent the lowest common denominator in the treatment of working people.

Also from the report:

Wal-Mart’s rampant violations of workers’ rights figured prominently. In the last few years, well over 100 unfair labor practice charges have been lodged against Wal-Mart throughout the country, with 43 charges filed in 2002 alone. Since 1995, the U.S. government has been forced to issue at least 60 complaints against Wal-Mart at the National Labor Relations Board . Wal-Mart’s labor law violations range from illegally firing workers who attempt to organize a union to unlawful surveillance, threats, and intimidation of employees who dare to speak out.

Read the full Miller Report.

Working Conditions Abroad

Despite WalMart's push to customers in the early 90's to "Buy American" in 1999 they were the nation's largest importer. Foreign suppliers from around the world make products solely for Wal-Mart stores and several non-profit organizations have focused on monitoring the working conditions at the factories of the suppliers. Here are links to sites about labor standards.

Labor Organizing in the U.S.

Canadian Wal-mart workers protest for a Union.
Canadian Wal-mart workers protest for a Union.

Summary

Since 1998, The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has campaigned to unionize all of Wal-Mart's domestic operations. Only a meat department in Jacksonville, Texas actually elected to unionized. Two weeks later, Wal-Mart announced plans to only use prepackaged meat. Butchers would be phased out across the country. (see "Trying to Overcome Embarrassment, Labor Opens a Drive to Organize Wal-Mart," New York Times, 11/8/02)

Wal-Mart's Reaction to Organizing

Wal-Mart has aggressively and successfully blocked any attempts to unionize its stores or distribution centers. When a unionization campaign is mounted for an area, Wal-Mart quickly deploys special "resource teams" to dissuade employees from unionizing. Moira Herbst from the Labor Research Association described Wal-Mart's typical reaction:

"Because Wal-Mart is notorious for its union-busting tactics, the union and the workers know that winning won't be easy. It is well documented that at the first sign of worker interest in a union, Wal-Mart brings in "response teams" from its corporate headquarters in Arkansas. They hold captive audience meetings and show anti-union videos, and punish union supporters by cutting their hours or simply firing them.

"Managers are handed manuals on how to keep the store union-free. The company offers managers financial compensation as incentives to lower overheads--the largest component of which is payroll. Managers pressure employees to complete assignments off the clock.

"Given the company's anti-union extremism, it is no wonder that none of Wal-Mart's stores or distribution centers are organized, except for one unit of 11 meat cutters in Jacksonville, Texas."

The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) maintains a national campaign to unionize Wal-Mart. In support of their case, UFCW offers facts & figures on wages, health care, workers' rights to unionize, women, safety, and fair working conditions. The UFCW has has hired disaffected managers as organizers and created a radio show to criticize Wal-Mart's working conditions.

In March of 2005, Ryszard Tomtas, a Polish immigrant who fled to the US after being involved in the Solidarity movement in Poland in the 1980's, was fired from his job at Wal-Mart. His employers told him he was fired for "horseplay" after 12 years of employment, but he believes he was fired because he signed a union card in December and planned to organize a union at his distribution center. After being fired, Mr. Tomtas went on an 8-day hunger strike in protest. Tomtas said if he had gone on a hunger strike in communist Poland 20 years ago, entire churches would have shown up to pray with him, and crowds would have gathered to support him. UFCW is working with Mr. Tomtas on filing charges against Wal-Mart.

State Organizing Campaigns

The UFCW also maintains a site that highlights unionizing campaigns in each state.

Here are some additional U.S. labor organizing links.

Labor Organizing Abroad

Union Busting

Discriminating Against Women

Wal-Mart vs. Women is a website started by Carolyn Sapp, the 1992 Miss America.
Wal-Mart vs. Women is a website started by Carolyn Sapp, the 1992 Miss America.

Wal-Mart is a defendant in a historic class action law suit alleging that the company discriminates against women in promotions, jobs assignments, training, and pay throughout the United States. The class action could potentially cover 1.6 million women and cost Wal-Mart billions of dollars, either as a court-enforced judgement or as part of an out-of-court settlement. Visit http://www.walmartfacts.com/keytopics/default.aspx#a868 to view Wal-Mart's statement on the issue.

On June 22 2004, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Jenkins certified the case as a class action, finding that six current and former Wal-Mart employees from California may represent all female employees of Wal-Mart who worked at its U.S. stores anytime since December 26, 1998. The case is known as Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (N.D. Cal. No C-01-2252). Read the judge's decision on class certification

The driving force behind the suit has been the Impact Fund. If you are a woman who might have a claim, you can contact the Impact Fund by calling 1-877-WOMAN-WM (966-2696). Or, you can write to WOMAN-WM, P.O. Box 7158, Berkeley, CA 94707-0158. All communications are entirely confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege. No fee will be charged for any legal advice or for joining the national class.

To see another story about the Impact Fund, click here

Other resources discussing Wal Mart's discrimination against women:
walmartversuswomen.com/ This website was started by Carolyn Sapp, the 1992 Miss America.

WalMart Wages

Wal-Mart says the majority of their hourly store associates in the United States work full-time. The average hourly wage for regular full-time Wal-Mart associates in the U.S. is $9.68 an hour.

Community Relations

Protesting Wal-Mart and suburban sprawl.
Protesting Wal-Mart and suburban sprawl.

Creating Sprawl

Competing with WalMart

Environment

Forestry

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wal-Mart announced in April 2005 a groundbreaking partnership program, “Acres for America,” which will conserve critical wildlife habitats for future generations. Wal-Mart has committed $35 million for the next 10 years to conserve at least one acre of priority wildlife habitat for every acre developed for company use. This new program is one of the largest ever public-private partnerships and the first time a company has tied its footprint to land conservation.

Political Involvement

Political Contributions

Wal-Mart, through its Political Action Committee Wal-Mart Stores Inc. For Responsible Government, gives more money to U.S. political candidates than any other corporation. For a state-by-state breakdown, see Political Money Line. Some statistics from Wal-Mart's contributions:

  • PAC Name: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. For Responsible Government
  • 91% of Wal-Mart's candidate contributions are to incumbents
  • 72% of Wal-Mart's candidate contributions are to Republicans
  • Total donated to candidates in 2003: $1,528,500
    • to Republicans: $1,212,000
    • to Democrats: $316,500

References and External Links

External Links

Wal-Mart corporate web sites

Further Information Sources

  • Reclaim Democracy huge collection of articles, studies and websites on Wal-Mart. The articles largely are critical of Wal-Mart, but supporters also are represented. Much of the best reporting and studies from multiple perspectives is collected here.
  • Against the Walhas a larger, but much less selective collection of articles on Wal-Mart.

Articles supporting or explaining Wal-Mart

Articles critical of Wal-Mart

Sites critical of Wal-Mart

Data

Blogs

Documentaries

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