Wal-Mart Stores

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has more than 4,800 stores in the U.S., including 635 Sam's Clubs. It is the world's largest retailer[1] and the world's second-largest corporation in revenue, behind Exxon Mobil.[2] Wal-Mart was the largest company for a while after 2001.[3] In 2010, Wal-Mart had a total revenue of $421.9 billion.[1] Its CEO, Mike Duke, had an estimated compensation of $18.7 million that same year.[2]

Support for American Legislative Exchange Council

Wal-Mart was on the corporate ("Private Enterprise") board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Maggie Sans, Vice President of Public Affairs at Wal-Mart, represented Wal-Mart on the corporate board as of 2011. It was a "Chairman" level sponsor of the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $50,000.[3] On May 30, 2012, it was announced Walmart is suspending their membership in ALEC. [4]

A list of ALEC corporations, can be found here. A list of corporations which have cut ties with ALEC can be found here.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.


Recent political contributions

Wal-Mart gave the Republican State Leadership Committee over $1.5 million in donations in the decade from 2004 to 2013.[5]

Open Secrets reports that in the 2010 election season, Wal-Mart gave $1,485,428 to candidates. $729,723 gave given to federal Democrat candidates and $750,205 was given to federal Republican candidates.

For more, see below.

Recent lobbying

Wal-Mart's PAC gave over $6 million in political donations in 2010 using the PR firm Patton Boggs LLP ($70,000).[6]

A full list of bills Wal-Mart lobbied for in 2010 can be seen HERE.

For more, see below.

Controversies

The New York Times reported in January 2003 that an internal Wal-Mart audit done in 2000 warned executives that "employee records at 128 stores showed extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations that require workers to be given time for breaks and meals." [4]

On November 2, 2004, USA Today reported that "Election Day is a lousy shopping day." But Wal-Mart attempted to appeal to the politically-minded bargain shopper by showing live Fox News election coverage at its 2620 stores. The goal is "to keep shoppers and employees informed," according to Charlie Nooney, CEO of Premier Retail Networks, which provides Wal-Mart's in-store TVs. But Wendy Liebmann, the president of WSL Strategic Retail, said that "Wal-Mart may be showing a Republican point of view to shoppers" by running Fox News. "Most retailers tend to keep political affiliations to themselves," she commented. [5]

On April 8, 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wal-Mart vice-chairman Thomas M. Coughlin, an "old hunting buddy of founder Sam Walton and for five years the second-highest-ranking executive," may have falsified expense reports totaling between $100,000 and $500,000. Coughlin's "total compensation topped $6 million" in 2004. The allegations of shady transactions were of particular interest because "Coughlin told several Wal-Mart employees that the money was actually being used for antiunion activities, including paying union staffers to tell him of pro-union workers in stores." [6]

According to the Wall Street Journal, "If Mr. Coughlin did pay union staffers for information, it would represent a criminal offense under the federal Taft-Hartley Act and ratchet up debate over the retail giant's labor policies." Coughlin supporters claimed "the payments went to former, rather than current, union people who had information about union activities at Wal-Mart." However, a former general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board said even payments to former union employees "could violate the National Labor Relations Act and carry civil penalties." [7]

In a statement, Wal-Mart spokesperson Mona Williams said the company's investigation "found no evidence whatsoever" of anti-union payments, adding, "The evidence shows that corporate funds were misappropriated and used for the personal benefit of specific individuals." Williams said, "Neither Mr. Coughlin nor anyone else at Wal-Mart was ever authorized by the company to make payments to anyone about union activity." [8]

Open communication, but no unions

In November 2004, PR Week reported that the United Food and Commercial Workers union is engaged in an ongoing, multi-year campaign to organize employees at seven Wal-Mart stores in Canada. One UFCW employee said the union is trying to "do everything quickly and quietly," in order to "stay under the company's radar as long as possible." The UFCW campaign did unionize the first Wal-Mart store ever, in Quebec in 2004 (see below). [9]

In response, Wal-Mart launched an anti-union internal communications program called "Setting the Record Straight." The program involved disseminating "statistics and independent studies" to Canadian Wal-Mart employees that "dispute assertions made by critics, such as 'Wal-Mart will provide "dead-end," poor quality jobs' and 'Wal-Mart is an American company that does nothing to support Canada.'" Wal-Mart's official position on unions is that they are unnecessary "because we believe in maintaining an environment of open communications." As PR Week reported, "Wal-Mart plans to fight the UFCW at every step." [10]

In February 2005, Wal-Mart announced it was closing a store in Quebec where workers were negotiating the first union contract ever with the giant retailer. "Wal-Mart Canada spokesman Andrew Pelletier said the company is not trying to bust the union," wrote the Ottawa Citizen. Pelletier said, "This store could easily have closed months ago and we didn't do that. We made a determination we were going to bargain [with employees] in good faith." [11]

The Quebec store's 200 employees received accreditation with the United Food & Commercial Workers Canada union in summer 2004. They had been negotiating "since last October to reach a collective agreement" with store management. The same day that Quebec Labour Minister Michel Despres granted the UFCW workers binding arbitration on the contract, Wal-Mart announced that the store would be closed in May 2005. "It's a business decision, it's an economic-viability issue ultimately, but it's been exacerbated through added pressures," said Pelletier, referring to union demands for more workers and more work hours. [12]

Following the announcement of the store closure, O'Dwyer's reported, "Wal-Mart's in-house corporate affairs team is handling PR with help from Canadian firm National PR. ... National PR's Toronto and Montreal offices are assisting with the work, including French-language media outreach." [13]

In May 2007, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a comprehensive report on tactics used by Wal-Mart to discourage employees from unionizing, "Discounting Rights: Wal-Mart's Violation of US Workers' Right to Freedom of Association." Tactics legal under U.S. law include showing new employees anti-union presentations like training videos, which contain "heavy 'spin' on purported drawbacks" to unions. Illegal tactics include having managers eavesdrop on employees, repositioning "surveillance cameras to monitor union supporters," disciplining "union supporters for policy violations that it has let slide for union opponents," and firing workers for union activity. From 2000 to 2005, the National Labor Relations Board found Wal-Mart guilty of 15 cases of illegal conduct; seven of the giant retailer's competitors collectively had four rulings against them over the same time period. Yet, HRW warns, "penalties under US labor law are so minimal that they have little deterrent effect." [7]

Legal issues

Wal-Mart has been involved with several class action lawsuits regarding wage theft. On December 10, 2009, multiple temporary workers from a distribution center in suburban Chicago announced a class-action lawsuit against SelectRemedy (a day labor agency) for repeated failures to pay overtime, the minimum wage, or all the money due to workers. Although SelectRemedy is primarily responsible for the alleged wage theft, Wal-Mart and other big warehouse owners who contract with temporary agencies are ultimately also responsible–legally and practically, according to Chris Williams, the attorney filing the class action.[8]

Similarly, in early December 2009, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $40 million to 87,500 Massachusetts employees who claimed the retailer denied them rest and meal breaks, manipulated time cards, and refused to pay overtime. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/business/04settle.html>

Bribery Scandal in Mexico

In 2003, Wal-Mart made a $52,000 bribe to Mexican government officials for a permit to build stores near ancient pyramids. [14] A former executive of Wal-Mart discovered that a total of over $24 million had been spent in bribes to Mexican officials to streamline the permit process for the construction of malls. His report sparked an internal investigation by Wal-Mart that was later shut down by the leadership in 2006, according to an investigation by the New York Times. [15]

Union Contracts in China

The Walmart outlet in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China, signed a contract with the city's trade union in July of 2008 which agreed to annual 8% pay raises in 2008 and 2009, as well as provisions for a minimum salary, paid vacation, social security, and overtime pay.[9][10] Wal-Mart has over 100 outlets with more than 40,000 employees in 53 cities in China, and it had agreed in 2006 to allow union operations in all of their stores (though no contracts were signed at that time).[11] However, the Shenyang agreement is the first in any of the Wal-Mart stores, despite the company's commitment, the legal right to join the All-China Federation of Trade Unions guaranteed all employees in China, and the securing of similar pay increases for unions in Shenzhen and Quanzhou the following week.[11] As of late July 2008, Wal-Mart was supposedly engaged in talks with other cities' unions, but no timetables for negotiations had been set.[11]

Opposing Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart has faced a variety of community opposition. For example, on April 6, 2004, voters in Inglewood, California, rejected by a 2-to-1 margin a Wal-Mart-funded ballot initiative which would have voided multiple local regulations to allow Wal-Mart to build a new supercenter. "After announcing last year it would build 40 supercenters in California, the chain has opened only one unopposed - in La Quinta, a desert community 200 miles east of L.A."[12]

Wal-Mart's response to the defeat - after it spent more than $1 million in PR for the Inglewood referendum - was remarkable for its dismissal of the democratic process. "We are disappointed that a small group of Inglewood leaders together with representatives of outside special interests were able to convince a majority of Inglewood voters that they don't deserve the job opportunities and shopping choices that others in the LA area enjoy," Wal-Mart told PR Week.[13]

Since 2004, Wal-Mart has repeatedly campaigned to have local ordinances against big box stores in California overturned via ballot measure, an electoral method that forces a question to a vote if enough signatures are gathered calling for that vote. It has paid petition circulators to collect signatures either opposing local laws against new big box construction, or in favor of allowing a single store. Once enough signatures are collected, a municipality has no choice but to either hold an election or give way to the demands of petitioners. With most municiaplities facing severe budget shortfalls, an election is often too expensive a proposition, and new construction is allowed. The store spent $2m defeating regulations in San Diego, $400,000 in Menifee in Riverside County, CA, and has also successfully fought laws in Long Beach, Sonora, and the Mojave Desert military base city of Ridgecrest. [14]

Public relations campaigns

NPR

In August 2004, the New York Times reported that Wal-Mart, "stung by criticism of its labor practices, expansion plans and other business tactics, is turning to public radio, public television and even journalists in training to try to improve its image." Wal-Mart's new media-related philanthopy includes National Public Radio sponsorship, underwriting the popular "Tavis Smiley" talk show, and "plans to award $500,000 in scholarships to minority students at journalism programs around the country, including Howard University, University of Southern California and Columbia University."[16].

Mona Williams, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart, said the company had "no hidden agenda," although it has not supported journalism in the past. "We've really been in the spotlight and I think that's made us especially sensitive to the need for balanced coverage," Williams said. "It doesn't matter if the subject is Wal-Mart or something else. You just aren't going to have that unless different perspectives are represented." NPR's underwriter announcements for Wal-Mart include a claim that the store brings "communities job opportunities, goods and services and support for neighborhood programs."[17]

Williams said that the recipients of the scholarships will be invited to appear at guests in the audience at the next years annual general meeting.

In response to listener complaints, NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin wrote, "Wal-Mart has been embroiled in anti-union controversies, accusations about its low-paid workers, the hiring of undocumented workers and the homogenizing effect of Wal-Mart in smaller communities. To its credit, NPR has reported this on a number of occasions. Some listeners wonder if Wal-Mart was motivated to purchase underwriting on NPR in an attempt to counteract that reporting. ... Wal-Mart symbolizes values that some listeners believe to be antithetical to the values of public radio."[18]

Telling their side of the story

In September 2004, Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott complained, "We have not gotten our story out to the extent that we need to." [19] The head of the global super store told a retailing conference that Wal-Mart's bad reputation came from newspapers and television.

However, a New York Times editorial responded that "if Wal-Mart wants to improve its image, it should focus less on shaping its message and more on changing the way it does business. ... These damaging news stories are not a product of bad spin, but bad facts. If Wal-Mart wants to do a better job in telling its story, it needs to work on having a better story to tell." [20]

PR Week reported that Wal-Mart is expanding its media relations team. "There's an acknowledgement throughout the company of the importance of using the media to tell our story," a company spokesperson said. "We're now putting more resources behind doing that." [21] Trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily call Wal-Mart's media department, asking for comment on the Times editorial. But the company said it had not decided whether or not to respond.[22]

Wal-Mart's Web PR

Following disappointing Christmas 2004 sales, Wal-Mart launched a national PR blitz in January 2005. "We want to set a tone going into our fiscal year that starts Feb. 1, that Wal-Mart Stores is going to be aggressive in taking care of customers, taking care of our associates, communications and merchandising. It's just the tone that we want to set," explained CEO H. Lee Scott. [23]

The campaign, assisted by Hill & Knowlton, included full-page "open-letter" ads in more than 100 newspapers, a new website, walmartfacts.com, and extensive radio, TV and newspaper interviews with CEO Lee Scott. "For the first time in its 43 years, a Wal-Mart CEO is publicly responding to detractors," noted USA Today. [24]

Scott alleged that mounting criticisms of the retail giant's labor practices, subcontractors and economic impact on communities were "becoming almost an urban legend." He added, "One of the things that strikes me is so many of the critics are people whose lifestyle doesn't change when the price of fuel changes, or if they keep a Wal-Mart store out of their area. They don't need competition. In some ways, people forget about average working people, and how they live their lives." [25] Wal-Mart's newspaper ads struck a similar tone, saying the company's critics "are working only for themselves" while Wal-Mart "is working for everyone." [26]

In an interview with USA Today, Scott said that walmartfacts.com will offer the "unfiltered truth" about the company and its impact on local communities. When asked why the new website doesn't include information on the class-action sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart, Scott responded, "We didn't leave it out for a particular reason. There are so many things that we deal with and aspects of society that you couldn't possibly put all of them in." [27]

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Beth Keck declined to reveal to the Globe and Mail what the cost of the campaign was preferring to describe it as being an "appreciable amount". "We've never been a company that puts a lot of resources into glitzy public relations ...But with size comes attention . . . We needed to do a better job of protecting our associates," she said.[28]

Wal-Mart's PR Expansion

According to spokesperson Mona Williams, in 2004 Wal-Mart began "to put corporate communications people in key cities and areas of the country where it operates." In April 2005, former director of public relations Gus Whitcomb was apparently demoted to regional corporate affairs director, in Dallas, Texas. Whitcomb's previous position was subsequently upgraded to "senior director of PR." The position remained unfilled, as of April 11, 2005. [29]

Wal-Mart's other regional corporate affairs / PR directors are located in San Francisco, Phoenix, and Washington, DC. The regional PR heads report to vice-president of field corporate affairs Carol Schumacher. [30]

On a national level, Wal-Mart receives PR assistance from Fleishman-Hillard and Hill & Knowlton. [31]

The Hurricane Katrina halo

"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is enjoying its best publicity in years as even its harshest critics laud the retailer's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts," reported Reuters in mid-September 2005. Following the hurricane which devastated several U.S. Gulf Coast states, the retailer promptly made significant contributions to relief efforts, including a $20 million cash donation, 15,000 truckloads of merchandise, 100,000 free meals, mobile pharmacies, and "the promise of an unconditional work transfer for all displaced employees," according to PR Week. CEO H. Lee Scott said Wal-Mart's generous response "had nothing to do with getting good press," but: [32]

Stories of the company's generosity and reports of 11,000 people lining up for 400 jobs at a new Wal-Mart in Oakland, California, have helped turn the tide on the barrage of bad news that has dogged the retailer for years. "Those stories become harder and harder to spin to the negative," Scott said.

At this time, Scott also "started to drop hints about a secret spin strategy to counter a union-backed, anti-Wal-Mart media blitz that he says is not going to go away," reported Reuters. While neglecting to reveal details of the campaign, Scott said in one speech, "It is not a matter of Wal-Mart just needing to hire public relations people. ... This is a significant issue that we face and has to be dealt with ... internally, in the company, without allowing our plans to be public." [33]

According to Wal-Mart spokesperson Mona Williams, "This isn't simply a public relations strategy to pretty up an image. ... Rather, it is an energetic attempt to tell our story and also become a better company in the process." An organizer with the "Wake-Up Wal-Mart" campaign critiquing the retailer countered, "If Wal-Mart chose to do the right thing every day, they wouldn't need a super-secret public relations strategy." [34]

Corporate crisis specialist and PR executive Eric Dezenhall cautioned Wake-Up Wal-Mart and other critics such as Wal-Mart Watch from criticizing the giant retailer so soon after its Hurricane Katrina donations. Dezenhall said, "I think that the timing is not ideal for Wal-Mart attackers right now, while (Wal-Mart) is enjoying a much-needed halo. It strikes me as a rather graceless time to launch an attack because it's just a matter of time before this halo burns off. If I were Wal-Mart, I would be glad that my adversaries were attacking in this cycle." [35]


The Salvation Army

After competing retailer Target became "embroiled in criticism for banning Salvation Army bell ringers from its storefronts for the second consecutive year" in late 2005, Wal-Mart ran television ads with Antonio Banderas "prominently featuring the iconic red kettle in front of its store." The ads end with "the Wal-Mart and Salvation Army logos flashed on the screen." [36]

Advertising Age wrote, "The spot is notable since Wal-Mart, although never shy about touting its corporate giving or impact on jobs and employees, rarely runs ads touting its association with a specific charity. It also marks the first media push behind its longstanding partnership with the Salvation Army." The ad campaign followed a November 17, 2005 press released from the Salvation Army, titled, "Wal-Mart expands 'Red Kettle' Campaign and Helps Launch National 'Online Kettle'," which "touted" Wal-Mart's "plans to allow the red kettle drives at not just a limited number of stores, as in years past, but at all 3,800 Sam's Club and Wal-Mart stores. It also extended the fundraising days to 28, up from 14." [37]

Engaging in the economic debate

In November 2005 Wal-Mart "unveiled a new weapon ... the most comprehensive study to date on the retailer's impact on the U.S. economy." The study, paid for by Wal-Mart and conducted by Global Insight, concluded the retailer saved the average American $2,329 and created 210,000 jobs in 2004. It also tied a 2.2 percent wage decrease to Wal-Mart, but claimed the "nominal" fall was offset by lower prices. The study did not address employee benefits or working conditions. [38] The study was one of 10 papers presented at a Washington DC conference sponsored by Wal-Mart, with "five of them at least somewhat critical of Wal-Mart's ruthlessly low-cost business model," reported the Wall Street Journal. Wal-Mart's Bob McAdam said that while "some conclusions might not be favorable ... if everything was one-sided, it would not be credible." Asked Tracy Sefl, of the activist group Wal-Mart Watch, "Will they act on any of the studies that show they have negative effects on a community?" [39]

Charm offensive in New York

In April 2005, O'Dwyer's PR Daily reported that Wal-Mart hired the New York PR firm The Marino Organization. Marino focuses "on the real estate and land development sector," and counts among its clients "Home Depot, Hudson Yards Coalition - a group which supports a controversial stadium on Manhattan's West Side - and Brooklyn Bridge Development Corporation." [40]

The campaign was part of "a media relations and community outreach effort to improve its image [in New York City] as it seeks future sites for local stores. ... The retailing giant has begun advertising in community papers across the city and plans to expand those ads to the ethnic press, radio, and television." Working with Marino, Wal-Mart held meetings with journalists from several New York papers and sought "meetings with the presidents of New York's five boroughs and with other community leaders," according to PR Week. [41] The company has hoped to open new stores in Staten Island and Queens, but so far as encountered community resistance.

Wal-Mart increased in New York-area PR efforts, after being "dropped from a development push in Queens" in February 2005. Marino, reported O'Dwyer's, "Marino has been touting a Wal-Mart-sponsored survey in New York - surveys are a favorite PR tactic for the retailer." Survey results include that 62 percent of respondents said they would "welcome the retailer," 69 percent said "they thought Wal-Mart stores create jobs," and 75 percent "thought Wal-Mart's stated wage of $10.38/hour in metropolitan areas is 'fair and decent'." [42]

Social media

In March 2006 news reports first appearing on blog sites and then in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal revealed that via the Edelman PR firm Wal-Mart was using bloggers to promote their company. [43]

With the online "blogosphere" producing criticism from labor unions and portions of the general public, particularly in the wake of films like 'Wal-Mart: The High cost of Low Price' and web sites like Wal-Mart Watch, Wal-Mart has engaged in an effort to retaliate.

Working Families for Wal-Mart is one such endeavor. The site, ForWalMart.com, is an apparent out-growth of Wal-Mart's Wal-Mart Facts. It's a blog-like site with thin ties to any real grassroots working-class supporters. The group's steering committee includes celebrities, politicians, academics, and business people with interests similar to Wal-Mart's, such as:

  • Andrew Jackson Young, Jr.
  • Charles W. Baird, Ph.D.
  • Pat Boone
  • Rep. Jennifer Carroll
  • Tom Chung
  • Carroll Cocchia
  • Lupita Colmenero
  • Bishop Ira Combs
  • Maria de Lourdes Sobrino
  • Ron Galloway
  • Barbara Kasoff
  • Rev. Dr. Barbara L. King
  • Chris Lewis
  • Courtney Lynch
  • Betty Miller
  • Martha Montoya
  • Catherine Smith

Leftist critical journal The Black Commentator noted Andrew Young's chairmanship as Young's own "cynical misuse of his stature as an icon of the Freedom Movement, preacher, former elected official, and honored elder in black America to mask and obscure the crimes of his corporate client marks Mr. Young as nothing more nor less than a corporate whore." [44] The article documents Young's past work on behalf of mega-brands and transnational corporations, under the auspices of a company he founded called GoodWorks.

Working Families for Wal-Mart says they are "committed to fostering open and honest dialogue with elected officials, opinion makers and community leaders that conveys the positive contributions of Wal-Mart to working families." At the time this was posted, there was no public comment system in addition to the absence of by-lines on their weblog, and the front page postings are full of assertions with few citations. The only public contact provided at this point is a Kevin Sheridan who may be the same Kevin Sheridan who once worked for Republican National Committee as a spokesperson. "Share Your Story" feature has been published to the site. A user could submit a story is left with the impression that it may be published to the web site publicly if they gave permission and if it was chosen. Criteria for what stories would be shared publicly was not posted along with with the submission terms and conditions.

The Working Families For Walmart campaign is reported to be the product of the relationship recently started by Wal-Mart with Edelman.

There are indications that, as of this writing, forwalmart.com uses the services of Grassroots Enterprise. Previously there were reported disclosures in the site's source code to "admin.grassroots.com," as of this edit that could not be corroborated. However, running a name service lookup provided the Internet Protocol address the domain name forwalmart.com resolves to, it is the same IP address the domain name grassroots.com resolves to: 207.33.22.207.

Grassroots Enterprise works under the slogan on their web site,"The Business of Politics and The Politics of Business" where they promote their savvy in "experience" from Medtronic, Sierra Club, MoveOn, the Christian Coalition, the National Rifle Association, and the Draft Wesley Clark campaign. Some of Grassroots Enterprise's work fits well within the realm of what is known as "astroturf."

'Softening' its image

As evidence that Wal-Mart was seeking to soften its image and curry favor with environmentalists and labor activists, PR Week noted on July 19, 2006, "Al Gore made an appearance at Wal-Mart headquarters this month to talk to staffers about environmental threats. ... And this week, Wal-Mart hired Harriet Hentges, a former nun who has held top posts for groups like the League of Women Voters and the U.S. Institute of Peace, as its 'senior director, stakeholder engagement,' charged, the company says, to help guide and explain its positions on issues like the environment and labor relations." [45]

Also in July 2006, Wal-Mart "hired Edelman vice chairman Leslie Dach as executive VP/corporate affairs & government relations. ... He has strong credentials in the Democratic party gained from work for the Presidential campaigns of Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy and Michael Dukakis. Dach also served as director of scheduling and advance for former Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro." Dach's environmental credentials include serving as the former legislative director for the National Audubon Society and currently serving as a board member of Audubon and the World Resources Institute. [46]

Wal-Mart's political strategies

"Wal-Mart's evolving political strategy, shaped with advice and support from Edelman, the public relations consultancy, has been twofold," reported the Financial Times. "First, it has attacked its critics – arguing that it is the victim of an unholy alliance between Democrat lawmakers and the unions they rely on to deliver votes and campaign financing. Second, it is seeking to make the argument that the company is good for America." [47]

To do the former, in August 2006 Wal-Mart "sent 18,000 'voter education' letters to its employees in Iowa, pointing out what it said were factual errors made by politicians who had attacked the company. The group is to despatch similar letters to its staff in other states." [48]

To do the latter, Wal-Mart is forming "alliances with local community leaders and businesses – in particular, black and Hispanic groups – that accept Wal-Mart's argument that the company helps low-income Americans by offering low prices and jobs with the prospect of advancement. ... In an indication of the strategy's potential, the black caucus on Chicago's city council was evenly split on the move to set a minimum wage for workers in the city's big stores – with opponents saying depressed inner-city areas needed Wal-Mart's investment and tax revenues." [49]

Wal-Mart the culture police

"Wal-Mart, America's largest retailer, prides itself on being a 'family-friendly' store, with smiley faces guiding stressed-out breadwinners to a land of low-cost, guilt-free consumption," writes Amy Schiller. But it has become "the self-appointed culture police by screening the music, books and magazines that many Americans will be able to access. ... Take, for example, Wal-Mart's refusal to sell Sheryl Crow's self-titled album in 1996, citing objections to a lyric that criticized Wal-Mart for selling handguns. ... The huge bestseller, America: the Book, featuring Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and the rest of the Daily Show crew, was banned from Wal-Mart in 2004." Wal-Mart also refused to carry Robert Greenwald's documentary, "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War." Even "something as potentially broadly appealing, positive, and utterly non-offensive as a T-shirt reading 'Someday a woman will be president' was pulled from the sales floor because 'the message goes against Wal-Mart family values.'" [50]

Wal-Mart tests impact of local newspaper ads

Between November 30 and December 6, 2006 "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. placed full-page advertisements in 336 Midwestern newspapers." Wal-Mart's move "comes as the retailer repositions itself on several fronts - particularly community relations." Wal-Mart's lack of local advertising means that "if one local grocery store goes out, a community newspaper loses at a minimum one or two full-page ads or inserts a week," said the director of the National Newspaper Association (NNA). Mona Williams, Wal-Mart's PR head, said the company "would consider incorporating the local papers into our overall ad strategy" if "there is a significant return" on their trial run. Williams said local ads may "generate good will." In early 2005, Wal-Mart ran ads in major metropolitan papers while "a public relations firm approach[ed] local papers, hoping to place news stories on Wal-Mart's views." NNA protested, saying local papers "are all but invisible to Wal-Mart - unless the company is looking for some free PR." [51]

Political contributions

$1,484,302 was the total for 2008 political contributions.

Wal-Mart's top three executives, including former Chief Executive Officer H. Lee Scott, donated the individual maximum $2,000 to President George W. Bush in 2004, and Jay Allen, Vice President for Corporate Affairs, was a Bush Pioneer having raised at least $100,000 for Bush. [15]

Wal-Mart gave $1,287,850 to federal candidates in the 05/06 election cycle through its political action committee (PAC) - 32% to Democrats, 68% to Republicans. [16]

Lobbying

The company spent $2,480,000 for lobbying in 2006. Of this total, $1,355,000 went to 13 outside lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists. The lobbying firms included Patton Boggs, Cassidy & Associates, Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, Miller & Chevalier, Podesta Group, and Angus & Nickerson. [17]

The Arkansas News Bureau reported that Wal-Mart only opened its Washington D.C. office in 1999. According to Washington Representatives as of November 2005, Wal-Mart had eight in-house lobbyists at its D.C. office and employed 11 outside consulting firms for federal lobbying work.

Executives and Compensation

Key Executives of 2011:[18]

  • Michael T. Duke: Director, President and CEO - $18.7 million
  • Rollin L. Ford: Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer
  • Steven P. Whaley: Senior Vice President and Controller
  • C. Douglas McMillon: Executive Vice President ; President and Chief Executive Officer of International Division - $8.8 million
  • William S. Simon: Executive Vice President ; President and Chief Executive Officer, Walmart U.S. - $14.1 million
  • Eduardo Castro-Wright: Vice Chairman ; President and Chief Executive Officer of Global.com and Global Sourcing - $9.2 million
  • Brian C. Cornell - Executive Vice President ; President and Chief Executive Officer of Sam's Club: $14.32 million
  • Jeffrey J. Gearhart: Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
  • Charles M. Holley: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer - $8.2 million

Key executives and 2007 pay: [19]

  • H. Lee Scott, Chief Executive Officer, President, Director, $5,590,000
  • Thomas M. Schoewe, Chief Financial Officer, $1,860,000
  • John B. Menzer, Vice Chairman and Chief Administration Officer, $3,440,000 (plus exercised $1,730,000 in options)
  • Michael T. Duke, Chief Executive Officer of Wal-Mart International, $3,360,000 (plus exercised $1,340,000 in options)
  • Eduardo Castro-Wright, Executive Vice President, $1,950,000
  • Mona Williams vice-president of communications
  • senior director of PR (position unfilled as of April 11, 2005)
  • Carol Schumacher vice-president of field corporate affairs
  • Tom Gean vice-president of the legal department
  • Laurie Smalling manager of corporate affairs

Regional corporate affairs / PR directors:

  • Gus Whitcomb, Dallas, Texas
  • San Francisco, California
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Washington, DC

Books, reports & films

Wal-Mart's PR firms and Marketing Consultants

Contact info

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Attn: Customer Service
702 S.W. 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716
Phone: 1-800-WALMART (1-800-925-6278)
Fax: 479-277-1830
Web: http://www.walmartstores.com (corporate)
Web: http://www.walmartfacts.com Wal-Mart's Advocacy site

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

External articles

See:

References

  1. Financial States, Wal-mart,"Bloomberg BusinessWeek"
  2. Wal-Mart Executive Profile and Biography,"Bloomberg Business Week.com"
  3. [American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011]
  4. Jessica Wohl, Wal-Mart ending membership in conservative group Reuters May 31, 2011
  5. The Wal-Mart 1%, "How Walmart helped lay the groundwork for the government shutdown," organization website, October 7, 2013.
  6. Wal-Mart Lobbying Database,"Opensecrets.org"
  7. Human Rights Watch Wal-Mart Denies Workers Basic Rights: Weak Labor Laws Perpetuate Abuses, April 2007
  8. "David MobergWarehouse Workers File Class-Action Wage Theft Law Suit", "Working in These Times", December 11, 2009.
  9. July 15, 2008. "Wal-Mart signed collective labor contract with employees" Accessed August 2008
  10. July 18, 2008. More MNC workers to get bargaining power" Accessed August 2008.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 July 25, 2008. Wal-Mart Signs Pay Deals with Official Chinese Unions" accessed August 2008.
  12. California's chilly welcome for Wal-Mart,"The Christian Science Monitor." April 8, 2004.
  13. California's chilly welcome for Wal-Mart,"The Christian Science Monitor." April 8, 2004.
  14. Evans, Will. Wal-Mart ramps up ballot threats to speed new stores, California Watch. Accessed December 7 2011.
  15. Michael Forsythe and Rachel Katz, Bloomberg News, "Rivalry between Wal-Mart, Costco also extends to national politics", The Boston Globe, July 25, 2004.
  16. 2006 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed July 2007.
  17. Wal-Mart Stores lobbying expenses, Open Secrets.
  18. Wal-Mart Executives,"Forbes.com"
  19. Wal-Mart Stores Key Executives, Yahoo Finance, accessed November 2007.