Wake-Up Wal-Mart - Always high costs. Always.


 

The Real Facts About Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart recently launched a multi million-dollar advertising campaign to silence its critics and hide the truth about the company.  The following are the REAL facts about Wal-Mart.

The Facts:

  1. Wal-Mart Wages and Worker Rights
  2. Wal-Mart Health Care
  3. Wal-Mart’s Cost to Taxpayers
  4. Wal-Mart’s Community Impact
  5. Wal-Mart and China
  6. Wal-Mart and Worker Injuries
  7. Other Wal-Mart Benefits
  8. Wal-Mart Anti-Union Policy
  9. Wal-Mart and Gender Discrimination
  10. Wal-Mart and Child Labor
  11. Wal-Mart and Undocumented Immigrants

 

Wal-Mart Wages and Worker Rights

Download the Wal-Mart and Wages flyer - PDF

A Substantial Number of Wal-Mart Associates earn far below the poverty line

•     In 2001, sales associates, the most common job in Wal-Mart, earned on average $8.23 an hour for annual wages of $13,861.  The 2001 poverty line for a family of three was $14,630. [“Is Wal-Mart Too Powerful?”, Business Week, 10/6/03, US Dept of Health and Human Services 2001 Poverty Guidelines, 2001]

•    A 2003 wage analysis reported that cashiers, the second most common job, earn approximately $7.92 per hour and work 29 hours a week. This brings in annual wages of only $11,948. [“Statistical Analysis of Gender Patterns in Wal-Mart’s Workforce”, Dr. Richard Drogin 2003]

Wal-Mart Associates don't earn enough to support a family

•    The average two-person family (one parent and one child) needed $27,948 to meet basic needs in 2005, well above what Wal-Mart reports that its average full-time associate earns. Wal-Mart claimed that its average associate earned $9.68 an hour in 2005. That would make the average associate's annual wages $17,114. [“Basic Family Budget Calculator” online at www.epinet.org]

Wage increases would cost Wal-Mart relatively little

•    Wal-Mart can cover the cost of a dollar an hour wage increase by raising prices a half penny per dollar. For instance, a $2.00 pair of socks would then cost $2.01. This minimal increase would annually add up to $1,800 for each employee. [Analysis of Wal-Mart Annual Report 2005]

Wal-Mart forces employees to work off-the-clock

•    Wal-Mart’s 2006 Annual Report reported that the company faced 57 wage and hour lawsuits. Major lawsuits have either been won or are working their way through the legal process in states such as California, Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. [Wal-Mart Annual Report 2006]

•    In December 2005, a California court ordered Wal-Mart to pay $172 million in damages for failing to provide meal breaks to nearly 116,000 hourly workers as required under state law. Wal-Mart appealed the case. [The New York Times, December 23, 2005]

•    A Pennsylvania court, also in December 2005, approved a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. by employees in Pennsylvania who say the company pressured them to work off the clock. The class could grow to include nearly 150,000 current or former employees. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 12, 2006 ]

•    In Pennsylvania, the lead plaintiff alleges she worked through breaks and after quitting time — eight to 12 unpaid hours a month, on average — to meet Wal-Mart’s work demands. “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,” Dolores Hummel, who worked at a Sam’s Club in Reading from 1992-2002, charged in her suit. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 12, 2006 ]

Wal-Mart executives did not act on warnings they were violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

•    Wal-Mart has known for years of a massive companywide problem of fair labor standards violations but did not take sufficient steps to address the problem. An internal Wal-Mart audit of one week of time records in 2000 from 25,000 employees had alerted Wal-Mart officials to potential violations. The audit found 60,767 missed breaks and 15,705 lost meal times. It also alerted Wal-Mart executives to 1,371 instances of minors working too late, during school hours, or for too many hours in a day. [Steven Greenhouse, “Suits Say Wal-Mart Forces Workers to Toil Off the Clock,” New York Times, A1, 6/25/02]

•     Despite this knowledge, Wal-Mart had to settle in January 2005 for violations that took place from 1998 to 2002, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $135,540 to settle U.S. Dept. of Labor charges that the company had violated provisions against minors operating hazardous machinery. [Ann Zimmerman, “Wal-Mart's Labor Agreement Is Criticized by Former Official,” Wall Street Journal, 2/15/05]

•     In March 2005, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle allegations that it had failed to pay overtime to janitors, many of whom worked seven nights a week. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 11/7/05, Forbes, 10/10/05]

•    The State of Connecticut, investigating Wal-Mart’s child labor practices after the federal investigation ended, found 11 more violations. In June 2005, Connecticut fined Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $3,300 over child labor violations after a state investigation found that some minors lacked proper paperwork and were operating hazardous equipment at the stores. [“Wal-Mart Is Fined for Child Labor Violations,” Bloomberg News, June 22, 2005]

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Wal-Mart and Health Care

Download the Wal-Mart and Health Care Flyer - PDF

Wal-Mart’s Health Care Plan Fails to Cover Over 775,000 Employees

•    Wal-Mart reported in January 2006 that its health insurance only covers 43% of their employees. Wal-Mart has approximately 1.39 million US employees. [http://www.walmartfacts.com/docs/1625_jan2006healthcarebackgrounders_576890240.pdf]

Wal-Mart’s Health Insurance Falls Far Short of Other Large Companies

•    On average for 2005, large companies (200 or more workers) cover approximately 66% of their employees. If Wal-Mart was to reach the average coverage rate, Wal-Mart should be covering an additional 318,000 employees [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005 and http://www.walmartfacts.com/docs/1625_jan2006healthcarebackgrounders_576890240.pdf].

Wal-Mart’s Health Care Eligibility is Restrictive

•     Part-timers—anybody below 34 hours a week – must wait 1 year before they can enroll. Moreover, spouses of part-time employees are ineligible for family health care coverage for 2006. [Wal-Mart Stores, “My Benefits, New Peak Time Benefits Making ad Difference For You,” 2006]

•    Full-time hourly employees must wait 180 days (approximately 6 months) before being able to enroll in Wal-Mart’s health insurance plan. Managers have no waiting period. [Wal-Mart 2006 Associate Guide]

•    Nationally, the average wait time for new employees to become eligible is 1.7 months. For the retail industry it is 3.0 months. [Kaiser Family Foundation & Health Research and Educational Trust, 2005]

All of Wal-Mart’s Health Plan’s Are Too Costly for Its Workers to Use

•    Since the average full-time Wal-Mart employee earned $17,114 in 2005, he or she would have to spend between 7 and 25 percent of his or her income just to cover the premiums and medical deductibles, if electing for single coverage. [Wal-Mart 2006 Associate Guide and UFCW analysis]

•    The average full-time employee electing for family coverage would have to spend between 22 and 40 percent of his or her income just to cover the premiums and medical deductibles. These costs do not include other health-related expenses such as medical co-pays, prescription coverage, emergency room deductibles, and ambulance deductibles. [Wal-Mart 2006 Associate Guide and UFCW Analysis].

•    Wal-Mart trumps the affordability of its new health care plan. According to Wal-Mart, “In January [2006], …Coverage will be available for as little as $22 per month for individuals” [www.walmartfacts.com]

•    What Wal-Mart’s website leaves out: Coverage is affordable, but using it will bankrupt many employees. Wal-Mart’s most affordable plan for 2006 includes a $1,000 deductible for single coverage and a $3,000 deductible for family coverage ($1,000 deductible per person covered up to $3,000). [Wal-Mart 2006 Associate Guide]

Wal-Mart Admits Public Health Care is a “Better Value”

•     President and CEO Lee Scott said in 2005, "In some of our states, the public program may actually be a better value - with relatively high income limits to qualify, and low premiums." [Transcript Lee Scott Speech 4/5/05]

Wal-Mart’s Health Care is Getting Costlier

•    Between 2000-2005, the cost of premiums rose 169 percent for single coverage and 117 percent for family coverage. [UFCW analysis of annual Wal-Mart Associate Guides].

•    In comparison, premiums for family coverage in the U.S. have increased only by 59%, from 2000-2005. [Employer Health Benefits: 2004 Annual Survey, Kaiser Family Foundation & Health Research and Educational Trust, 2004] Wal-Mart Employees Pay More for Health Care Costs

•    In 2004, Wal-Mart employees, in total, paid approximately 41% of the plan costs [Wal-Mart IRS 5500 Filings, 2005].

•    Nationally for 2004 on average employees paid for only 16% of single coverage costs and 28% of family coverage costs [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005].

Wal-Mart Covers Less of the Health Care Costs Compared to Its Competitors

•    In a state analysis, the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services found that in 2003, Wal-Mart covered only 52% of total health care premium costs compared to K-Mart which covered 66%, Target which covered 68%, and Sears which covered 80% [“Employers Who Have 50 or More Employees Using Public Health Assistance,” Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, 2/2005]

Wal-Mart’s Spending Falls Below Industry Standards

•    Wal-Mart’s spending on health care for its employees falls well below industry and national employer averages. In 2002, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart spent an average of $3,500 per employee. By comparison, the average spending per employee in the wholesale/retailing sector was $4,800. For U.S. employers in general, the average was $5,600 per employee, Therefore, Wal-Mart’s average spending on health benefits for each covered employee was 27% less than the industry average and 37% less than the national average. [Bernard Wysocki, Jr. and Ann Zimmerman, “Wal-Mart Cost-Cutting Finds a Big Target in Health Benefits,” Wall Street Journal September 30, 2003 p1]

Wal-Mart Only Spends 77 Cents an Hour Per Employee for Health Benefits

•    In 2004, Wal-Mart spent $1.5 billion on its health insurance. This amounts to an employer contribution of around only $0.77 an hour per employee. This accounts for approximately a half-percent of Wal-Mart's $285 billion in sales in 2004. [Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart Internal Memo, 2005, Wal-Mart Annual Report, 2005].

Wal-Mart Increased Advertising More Than Health Care

•    In 2004, Wal-Mart spent nearly the same amount on advertising as it did on health insurance. In 2004, Wal-Mart reports that it spent $1.5 billion on health care benefits and $1.4 billion in advertising. [Wal-Mart Annual Report 2005, Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart Internal Memo, 2005]

•    Between 2003 and 2004, Wal-Mart increased its advertising budget by $434 million, only increasing its spending on employee health care by $100 million. That means Wal-Mart increased its spending on advertising by 45 percent while only increasing its spending on employee health care by 7 percent. [Wal-Mart Annual Report 2005, Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart Internal Memo, 2005]

•    In fact, Wal-Mart has consistently increased spending on advertising more than its spending on employee health care. Between 2002 and 2003, Wal-Mart put more new funds into advertising than into health care. Wal-Mart increased spending on advertising by $290 million, while only increasing health care spending by $215 million for the same period. (note: this also occurred in 1995-96, 1997-98,1998-1999). [Wal-Mart Annual Reports and 5500 Filings]

One Out of Six Wal-Mart Employees Has No Health Care Coverage At All

•    This is more than double the national percentage for large firms (firms with over 100 employees). In fact, we estimate that Wal-Mart accounted in 2005 for more than 1 out of every 40 uninsured workers who are employed at a large firm. [Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart Internal Memo, 2005; Wal-Mart Annual Report; “Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage: Sponsorship, Eligibility, and Participation Patterns in 2001,” Bowen Garrett, Ph.D., released by the Kaiser Family Foundation September 2004].

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Costs to Taxpayers

Download the Wal-Mart and Cost to Taxpayers fact sheet - PDF

Your tax dollars pay for Wal-Mart's greed

•    The estimated total amount of federal assistance for which Wal-Mart employees were eligible in 2004 was $2.5 billion. [The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff Of The Committee On Education And The Workforce, 2/16/04]

•    One 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This cost comes from the following, on average:

•    $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.

•    $42,000 a year for low-income housing assistance.

•    $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families.

•    $100,000 a year for the additional expenses for programs for students.

•    $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP)

•    $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.

[The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff Of The Committee On Education And The Workforce, 2/16/04]

Health care subsidies compared to executive compensation

•    Excluding his salary of $1.2 million, in 2004 Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott made around $22 million in bonuses, stock awards, and stock options in 2004.

•    This $22 million could reimburse taxpayers in 3 states where Wal-Mart topped the list of users of state-sponsored health care programs, covering more than 15,000 Wal-Mart employees and dependents. [Wal-Mart Proxy Statement and News Articles GA, CT, AL].

Your tax dollars subsidize Wal-Mart's growth

•    The first ever national report on Wal-Mart subsidies documented at least $1 billion in subsidies from state and local governments.

•    A Wal-Mart official stated that “it is common” for the company to request subsidies “in about one-third of all [retail] projects.” This would suggest that over a thousand Wal-Mart stores have been subsidized. [“Shopping For Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth,” Good Job First, May 2004]

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Community Impact

Download the Wal-Mart and Community Impact Fact Sheet - PDF

Wal-Mart’s growth negatively impact worker’s wages

•    The most comprehensive study of Wal-Mart’s impact showed that the stores reduced earnings per person by 5 percent. This 2005 study by an economist from the National Bureau of Economic Research used Wal-Mart’s own store data and government data for all counties where Wal-Mart has operated for 30 years, It found that the average Wal-Mart store reduces earnings per person by 5 percent in the county in which it operates. [David Neumark, The Effects of Wal-Mart on Local Labor Markets 2005]

The Cost of Wal-Mart’s entry into a community can be significant

•    According to a 2003 estimate, the influx of big-box stores into San Diego would result in an annual decline in wages and benefits which could cost the area up to $221 million [San Diego Taxpayers Association (SDCTA), 2003]

Lower wages mean less money for communities

•    When an employer pays low wages to its employees, the employees have less money to spend on goods and services in the community, which in turn reduces the income and spending of others in the community. In other words a reduction in wages has a multiplier impact in the surrounding area.

•    For instance, in 1999, Southern California municipalities estimated that for every dollar decrease in wages in the southern California economy, $2.08 in spending was lost-- the $1 decrease plus another $1.08 in indirect multiplier impacts. [“The Impact of Big Box Grocers in Southern California” Dr. Marlon Boarnet and Dr. Randall Crane, 1999.]

Wal-Mart hurts other businesses when it comes to town.

•    In Maine, existing businesses lost over 10 percent of their market in 80 percent of the towns where Wal-Mart opened stores. [Georgeanne Artz And James McConnon, The Impact of Wal-Mart on Host Towns and Surrounding Communities in Maine, 2001]

•    Food stores in Mississippi lost 17 percent of their sales by the fifth year after a Wal-Mart Supercenter had come into their county, and retail stores lost 9 percent of their sales [Kenneth Stone and Georgeanne Artz, The Economic Impact of a Wal-Mart Supercenter on Existing Businesses in Mississippi, 2002]

•    Over the course of [a few years after Wal-Mart entered a community], retailers' sales of apparel dropped 28% on average, hardware sales fell by 20%, and sales of specialty stores fell by 17%. [Kenneth Stone at Iowa State University, “Impact of the Wal-Mart Phenomenon on Rural Communities,” 1997]

•     In towns without Wal-Marts that are close to towns with Wal-Marts, sales in general merchandise declined immediately after Wal-Mart stores opened. After ten years, sales declined by a cumulative 34%. [Kenneth Stone at Iowa State University, “Impact of the Wal-Mart Phenomenon on Rural Communities,” 1997]

Wal-Mart destroys the environment

•     Between 2003 and 2005, state and federal environmental agencies fined Wal-Mart $5 million.

•     In 2005, Wal-Mart reached a $1.15 million settlement with the State of Connecticut for allowing improperly stored pesticides and other pollutants to pollute streams. This was the largest such settlement in state history. [Hartford Courant, 8/16/05]

•    In May 2004, Wal-Mart agreed to pay the largest settlement for stormwater violations in EPA history. The United States sued Wal-mart for violating the Clean Water Act in 9 states, calling for penalties of over $3.1 million and changes to Wal-Mart’s building practices. [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, May 12, 2004, U.S. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 2004 WL 2370700]

•    In 2004, Wal-Mart was fined $765,000 for violating Florida’s petroleum storage tank laws at its automobile service centers. Wal-Mart failed to register its fuel tanks, failed to install devices that prevent overflow, did not perform monthly monitoring, lacked current technologies, and blocked state inspectors. [Associated Press, 11/18/04]

•    In Georgia, Wal-Mart was fined about $150,000 in 2004 for water contamination. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/10/05]

Wal-Mart increases vehicle traffic

•    A 2004 study of estimated additional driving costs of Supercenters in the San Francisco Bay area concluded that there would be up to an additional 238 million vehicle miles traveled per year. [Supercenters and the Transformation of the Bay Area Grocery Industry: Issues, Trends, and Impacts. Bay Area Economic Forum, 2004]

•    These extra miles traveled could cost communities in the Bay area up $ 256 million in additional costs for infrastructure repair and environmental degradation. [Supercenters and the Transformation of the Bay Area Grocery Industry: Issues, Trends, and Impacts. Bay Area Economic Forum, 2004]

Wal-Mart desecrates sacred grounds

•    A nonprofit group that oversees the care of Native Hawaiian remains filed a lawsuit in 2003 against Wal-Mart, the State of Hawaii and the City of Honolulu. It alleged they violated state law dealing with the protection of preservation of human remains and desecration of graves. More than 60 sets of human remains were found at the Wal-Mart construction site in Honolulu. [KHNL-TV/KHBC/KOGG, HI. 7/20/2005]

•    In 2004, Wal-Mart built a 71,902-square-foot store near the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in San Juan Teotichuacan, Mexico. Teotihuacan was called "the place where the gods were created" by the Aztecs. [Knight Ridder, 10/25/04]

•    In 1997, the Alliance for Native American Indian Rights in Tennessee called for a retail boycott of Wal-Mart after construction began on a site for a new store near Nashville. According to a state archaeologist, the site contained 150 graves. [Fulton County Daily Report, 11/30/00, Chattanooga Free Press, 11/23/98]

Wal-Mart's empty stores are blighting communities

•    As of May 2006, Wal-Mart Realty has listed 320 vacant or soon to be vacant properties that the company is looking to lease or sell. They total to over 25 million square feet. Combined they are more than 6 times larger than the Pentagon building and larger than 440 football fields. [www.walmartrealty.com]

•    Wal-Mart’s rapid expansion of Supercenters and Sam's Clubs has contributed to hundreds of vacant stores across the country. [“Wal Mart site: Use as is or rebuild?”, Dallas Morning News, 2/20/02]

•    When Wal-Mart decides to convert a discount store into a larger Supercenter, it is often cheaper or easier simply to relocate entirely. David Brennan, associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn, noted that Wal-Mart stores relocate so regularly that, “it is not uncommon to relocate right across the street." [“Home Depot to Move from Old to New Store Next Door,” Providence News-Journal, 8/17/03]

•    Wal-Mart’s stores are uselessly large for most other tenants. An average discount store is 97,000 square feet. Wal-Mart’s Supercenters are on average nearly twice as large at 186,000 square feet. [www.walmartfacts.com]

•    Also Wal-Mart often resists other large retail stores moving in. A president of a major real estate developer in Dallas said in 2002, “They're not going to be very receptive to any retailer going into it and even if they sell it, they might put a non- compete clause in there.” As one Wal-Mart spokesperson said in 2004, "There are times when it's in our interest to get the property moving faster, but we're certainly not going to give a competitor an advantage." [Dallas Morning News 2/20/02, Wall Street Journal, 9/15/04]

•    Wal-Mart planned to build another 60 million square feet of store space in 2006, or roughly the equivalent of 1,040 football fields or 16 Pentagon buildings. [Wal-Mart Stores, Twelfth Annual Analysts' Meeting, FD (Fair Disclosure) Wire October 25, 2005]

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Wal-Mart and Imports

•    Wal-Mart highlights its American suppliers but imports 60 percent of its goods

•    Wal-Mart directly imported 60 percent of the goods they sold in the U.S. in 2004. [Frontline, 11/16/2004]

•    Just because Wal-Mart bought goods from suppliers based in the United States does not mean that they were actually manufactured in the United States. In fact, Ray Bracy, Wal-Mart's vice president for federal and international public affairs, was asked, “Do you have any idea what percentage [of non-grocery, domestic sales] comes from overseas?” He responded, “What we don't know is the numbers of products that come from distributors or from manufacturers that they [sic] decide where to manufacture.” Wal-Mart fails to track where their products are manufactured. [Frontline, 11/16/2004]

Wal-Mart and China

Wal-Mart buys much of its merchandise from China

•    Wal-Mart reports that it purchased $18 billion of goods from China in 2004.

•    Wal-Mart was responsible for about 1/10th of the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2005. [“U.S. Stock Investors Wary of Analyst `Yuan Plays': Taking Stock, Bloomberg, 7/1/05]

•    If Wal-Mart were an individual economy, it would rank as China’s eighth-biggest trading partner, ahead of Russia, Australia and Canada. [China Business Weekly, 12/02/2004]

Many of Wal-Mart's “American Suppliers” actually manufacture most or all of their products in China

•    An example of an “American Supplier” is Hasbro, headquartered in Rhode Island. Today, Wal-Mart is the largest purchaser of Hasbro products—accounting for 21 percent of all Hasbro goods or more than $600 million in sales. But Hasbro reports, “We source production of substantially all of our toy products and certain of our game products through unrelated manufacturers in various Far East countries, principally China.” Hasbro specifies that “the substantial majority of our toy products are manufactured in China.” [2004 Hasbro 10-K filed with the SEC]

Wal-Mart's Chinese factory workers are treated poorly

•    Workers making clothing for Wal-Mart in Shenzhen, China filed a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart in September 2005 claiming that they were not paid the legal minimum wage, not permitted to take holidays off and were forced to work overtime. They said their employer had withheld the first three months of all workers' pay, almost making them indentured servants because the company refused to pay the money if they quit. [New York Times, September 14, 2005]

•    Workers making toys for Wal-Mart in China’s Guangdong Province reported that they would have to meet a quota of painting 8,900 toy pieces in an eight hour shift in order to earn the stated wage of $3.45 a day. If they failed to meet that quota, the factory would only pay them $1.23 for a day’s work. [China Labor Watch, December 21, 2005]

Elsewhere workers producing goods for Wal-Mart also face appalling conditions, despite Wal-Mart’s factory inspection program

•    Workers from Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Swaziland brought a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart in September 2005 asserting that the company’s codes of conduct were violated in dozens of ways. They said they were often paid less than the legal minimum wage and did not receive mandated time-and-a-half for overtime, and some said they were beaten by managers and were locked in their factories. [New York Times, September 14, 2005]

•    A female apparel worker in Dhaka, Bangladesh, said she was locked into the factory and did not have a day off in her first six months. She said she was told if she refused to work the required overtime, she would be fired. Another worker said her supervisor attacked her “by slapping her face so hard that her nose began bleeding simply because she was unable to meet” her “high quota.” [New York Times, September 14, 2005]

•     In 2004, only 8 percent of Wal-Mart inspectors’ visits to factories were unannounced, giving supervisors the chance to coach workers what to say and hide violations. Wal-Mart claimed it planned to double unannounced visits by its inspectors but that would still leave 80 percent of inspections announced. [CFO Magazine, August 2005]

•    A former Wal-Mart executive James Lynn has sued the company claiming he was fired because he warned the company that an inspection manager was intimidating underlings into passing Central American suppliers. Lynn documented forced pregnancy tests, 24-hour work shifts, extreme heat, pat-down searches, locked exits, and other violations of the labor laws of these Central American countries. [New York Times, July 1, 2005 and James Lynn to Odair Violim, April 28, 2002, www.nclnet.org]

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Wal-Mart and Worker Injuries

Wal-Mart cares little for the safety of its workers

•    In 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld a $5,000 fine against a Wal-Mart store in Hoover, Ala., for blocking emergency exits. The court upheld a decision by a judge who found that Wal-Mart was guilty of a serious and repeated offense. [New York Times, 5/17/05]

•    According to New York Times report in 2004, Wal-Mart instituted a “lock-in” policy at some of its Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores. The stores lock their doors at night so that no one can enter or leave the building, leaving workers inside trapped. Some workers reported that managers had threatened to fire them if they ever used the fire exit to leave the building. Instead, they were supposed to wait for a manager to unlock doors to allow employees to escape in an emergency. [New York Times 1/18/2004]

•    The West Virginiastate workmen’s comp agency placed Wal-Mart in an “adverse risk” pool because Wal-Mart had unusually high accident rates. [Charleston Gazette, 6/3/99]

Wal-Mart takes a combative approach to workers’ compensation claims

•    Arkansas Business in 2001 described Wal-Mart as “the state’s most aggressive” when it comes to challenging worker’s compensation claims. The company “stands far above any other self-insurer in challenges to employee claims.” [Arkansas Business, 1/8/01]

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Wal-Mart Non-Health Care Benefits

Wal-Mart fails to provide a secure retirement benefit for its employees.

•    Wal-Mart sponsors two retirement plans — a profit sharing plan and 401(k) plan — neither of which guarantee workers a fixed monthly pension benefit.

•    Wal-Mart has shifted risks to employees by concentrating investment in its own stock. From January 2000 to January 2005, the average adjusted share price of Wal-Mart’s stock lost more than a fifth of its value. By being concentrated in one security, employees’ retirement plans are subject to the whims of one stock rather than having the safety of a diversified portfolio. [Wal-Mart Annual Reports, 2000-2005]

•    Wal-Mart's retirement plans are Enron-like -- in 2003-04, 67% of their combined assets were invested in Wal-Mart stock. [Wal-Mart Stores 5500 IRS Filing, 2004]

Wal-Mart shares little of its $11 billion profits with employees.

•    In 2004, Wal-Mart contributed $570 a year per U. S. employee for profit sharing and 401(k) plans for the United States. [Chambers, Wal-Mart Internal Memo, 2005, www.walmartfacts.com]

•     To boost its profits by 1 percent, Wal-Mart is seeking to reduce its contributions to the profit sharing and 401(k) plans from 4 percent of wages to 3 percent of wages. As opposed to reducing the benefit to the 1.2 million hourly workers, Wal-Mart should reduce the number of stock options that it grants to management. In 2004, this expense amounted to 2 percent of net profit. [Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart Internal Memo, 2005, Wal-Mart Proxy Statements 2004-5]

Wal-Mart shifts retirement costs onto communities

•    When employees retire without adequate savings and benefits, they are less able to pay for health care, housing, and food. Communities and taxpayers ultimately bear the cost.

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Wal-Mart Anti-Union Policy

Wal-Mart closes down stores and departments that unionize

•    Wal-Mart closed its store in Jonquierre, Quebec in April 2005 after its employees received union certification. The store became the first unionized Wal-Mart in North America when 51 percent of the employees at the store signed union cards. [Washington Post, 4/14/05]

•    In December 2005, the Quebec Labour Board ordered Wal-Mart to compensate former employees of its store in Jonquiere Quebec. The Board ruled that Wal-Mart had improperly closed the store in April 2005 in reprisal against unionized workers. [Personnel Today, 12/19/05]

•    In 2000, when a small meatcutting department successfully organized a union at a Wal-Mart store in Texas, Wal-Mart responded a week later by announcing the phase-out of its in-store meatcutting company-wide. [Pan Demetrakakes, "Is Wal-Mart Wrapped in Union Phobia?" Food & Packaging 76 (August 1, 2003).]

Wal-Mart has issued "A Manager's Toolbox to Remaining Union Free,"

•    This toolbox provides managers with lists of warning signs that workers might be organizing, including "frequent meetings at associates' homes" and "associates who are never seen together start talking or associating with each other." The "Toolbox" gives managers a hotline to call so that company specialists can respond rapidly and head off any attempt by employees to organize. [Wal-Mart, A Manager’s Toolbox to Remaining Union Free at 20-21]

Wal-Mart is committed to an anti-union policy

•    In the last few years, well over 100 unfair labor practice charges have been filed 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. [International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Internationally Recognised Core Labour Standards in the United States: Report for the WTO General Council Review of the Trade Policies of the United States (Geneva, January 14-16, 2004)]

•    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. [“Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart," A Report by the Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, 2/16/04]

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Wal-Mart & Gender Discrimination

Download the Wal-Mart and Gender Discrimination fact sheet - PDF

Wal-Mart discriminates against women

•    In 2001, six women sued Wal-Mart in California claiming the company discriminated against women by systematically denying them promotions and paying them less than men. The lawsuit, Dukes v. Wal-Mart, has expanded to include more than 1.6 million current and former female employees, and was certified on June 21 2004 as the largest class action lawsuit ever. [Mondaq Business Briefing, November 1, 2004]

•    In 2001, while more than two-thirds of Wal-Mart's hourly workers were female, women held only one-third of managerial positions and made up less than 15 percent of store managers. This is all despite women having had on average longer seniority and higher merit ratings than their male counterparts. [Neil Buckley and Caroline Daniel, “Wal-Mart vs. the Workers: Labour Grievances Are Stacking Up Against the World’s Biggest Company,"” Financial Times 11, 11/20/03]

•     In 2001, women managers on average earned $14,500 less than their male counterparts. Female hourly workers earned on average $1,100 less than male counterparts. [Drogin 2003]

•    In 2001, for the same job classification, women earned from 5 percent to 15 percent less than men, even after taking into account factors such as seniority and performance. [Drogin 2003]

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Wal-Mart & Child Labor

Download the Wal-Mart and Child Labor fact sheet - PDF

Wal-Mart violates Child Labor Laws

•    An internal Wal-Mart audit found "extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations requiring time for breaks and meals.” [New York Times, 1/13/04]

•    One week of time records from 25,000 employees in July 2000 found 1,371 instances of minors working too late, during school hours, or for too many hours in a day. There were 60,767 missed breaks and 15,705 lost meal times. [New York Times, 1/13/04]

•    Wal-Mart agreed to pay $135,540 to settle child labor violation charges in January 2005 for allegedly breaking child labor laws in 24 incidents. [Wall Street Journal, 2/12/05]

•    Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell announced that the state found 11 violations in three Wal-Mart stores in the state and that 337 minors worked at the company's 32 Connecticut stores from 2003 to 2005. The probe came after the Labor Department in February said the retailer had similar violations nationwide. [Bloomberg News, 6/22/05]

•    Wal-Mart has also been fined $205,650 for 1,436 violations of child labor laws in Maine for the period 1995 to 1998. The settlement represents the largest number of citations as well as the largest fine ever issued by the Maine Department of Labor for child labor violations. [Bureau of Business Practice News]

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Wal-Mart & Undocumented Immigrants

•    In 2003, federal authorities arrested 250 undocumented immigrants who were employed by janitor contracting services and hired by Wal-Mart in 21 states. Many of the janitors - from Mexico, Russia, Mongolia, Poland and a host of other nations - worked seven days or nights a week without overtime pay or injury compensation. Those who worked nights were often locked in the store until the morning. [Wall Street Journal, 11/5/05, CNN Money, “Wal-Mart pays $11m over illegal labor”, 2005]

•    In March 2005, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle federal allegations it used undocumented immigrants to clean its stores. This was the largest immigration related fine ever levied. [CNN Money, “Wal-Mart pays $11m over illegal labor”, 2005 and Wall Street Journal, 11/5/05]

•     In October 2005, Wal-Mart shut down work on seven stores under construction in North Dakota to check for undocumented workers after two illegal immigrants working on Wal-Mart projects in Bismarck were charged with molesting two 13-year-old girls. [Associated Press, 11/18/05]

•     Federal immigration officers, in November 2005, arrested 125 illegal workers in a raid at a Wal-Mart distribution center under construction north of Philadelphia. The workers from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico were detained Thursday at the site. [Associated Press, 11/18/05]

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