WAL-MART'S NEW FRONT MAN

Good grief! Someone take up a collection, go to Wal-Mart, and buy a clue for Andy Young.

Good grief! Someone take up a collection, go to Wal-Mart, and buy a clue for Andy Young.

This former civil rights worker, union organizer, mayor, congress critter, and UN ambassador has now cashed in his political influence to become a front man for – grab your socks – Wal-Mart! Yes, the retailing behemoth renown and reviled for its poverty-wages, miserly benefits, discrimination against women, third-world sweatshop goods, and predatory tactics to crush small business.

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How mingy is Wal-Mart? So mingy that a jury has found it guilty of cheating thousands of its workers out of their 30-minute, unpaid lunch breaks. This is the greedheaded outfit that Andy Young now works for, serving as chairman of “Working Families for Wal-Mart,” a new PR front to polish the thoroughly tarnished image of this abusive giant. Why? Well… money, for one thing.

Young is the paid head of a corporate-funded group called Goodworks, which is getting money from the new Wal-Mart PR front. Who is the largest funder of the PR front? Wal-Mart, of course.

Young insists that the global corporation is not getting credit for helping local economies. “Wal-Mart is generating new wealth when it comes [in to a town],” he asserts. Hogwash. Wal-Mart merely diverts sales from local businesses and then extracts that wealth from our communities, hauling it back to corporate headquarters.

Nor does Wal-Mart create jobs for local economies. Its stores employ fewer workers per dollar of sales than do the local retailers it displaces. Also, retail pay levels fall, for Wal-Mart lowers the local wage scale.

This is Jim Hightower saying… Maybe Andy Young can fool himself, but he can’t fool us. Check out an independent study called, “The Effects of Wal-Mart on Local Labor Markets.” You can find at the National Bureau of Economic Research at www.nber.org

Sources:

“Andrew Young to Head Pro-Wal-Mart Group,” The Lima News, February 27, 2006.

“Jury Rules Wal-Mart Must Pay $172 Million Over Meal Breaks,” The New York Times, December 23, 2005.

“Big Box Balderdash,” The New York Times, December 12, 2005.

“Break-deprived Wal-Mart workers win $172 million,” Business Digest, December 23, 2005.

“The High Cost of Wal-Mart’s Everyday Low Prices,” Doubleday, 2006.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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