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September 12, 2005

“”Why Was Our Wal-Mart Ad Refused?””

Washington D.C. – Today, the Benton County Daily Record refused to publish a full-page advertisement paid for by WakeUpWalMart.com. The advertisement was a copy of an open letter sent to Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, by WakeUpWalMart.com. The letter extended an offer by WakeUpWalMart.com to create a new working partnership and listed “”six demands for change.””

Although the advertisement was paid for and accepted for publication on Friday, September 9th, this afternoon, Monday September 12, a representative from the Daily Record contacted WakeUpWalMart.com and informed the group the ad would not run as scheduled on Tuesday, September 13th. The representative of the newspaper stated that the open letter to Lee Scott was “”defamatory to Wal-Mart”” but refused repeated requests to explain what specific language or phrases in the letter were defamatory.

Officials at the Daily Record also refused to address questions as to whether or not our group was being unfairly targeted. Messages left by the group with the paper’s general manager, Jeff Jeffus, were also not returned.

“”Why was our Wal-Mart Ad refused? Our genuine hope with this open letter was to offer Lee Scott an olive branch, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to build a new working relationship to improve the lives of millions of Americans everyday. Evidently, the Benton County Daily Record believes asking Wal-Mart to do the right thing everyday is ‘defamatory,'”” said Paul Blank, Campaign Director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

The text of the open letter is available below.

AN OPEN LETTER TO WAL-MART CEO LEE SCOTT

Mr. Lee Scott, CEO

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611

Dear Mr. Scott,

In the wake of the terrible tragedies caused by Hurricane Katrina, Wal-Mart helped ease the suffering of many Americans. This crisis brought out the best in Wal-Mart and we applaud your hurricane relief efforts. We hope Wal-Mart’s response to Hurricane Katrina represents a turning point.

Wal-Mart has a great opportunity to work with us to help improve the lives of so many Americans who face an economic and health care crisis everyday, everywhere in America. The American people want to know, will Wal-Mart do what is right for America or will Wal-Mart lead a race to the bottom?

We believe now is the time for Wal-Mart to address the serious issues facing its 1.3 million workers, their families, our communities and our country by agreeing to the following “”six demands for change.””

  1. Living Wage. Pay all Wal-Mart workers a fair living wage so they can support their families.
  2. Affordable Health Care. Provide all workers comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage so they can care for their families and no longer be forced to rely on taxpayer-funded public health care.
  3. End Discrimination. Ensure equal opportunity and equal pay for women and people of color in your workforce at all levels through a stringent and independent monitoring process.
  4. Zero Tolerance on Child Labor. Adopt a zero tolerance policy and institute an independent monitoring program to stop the exploitation of child labor in the United States and abroad.
  5. Buy American. Establish a “”Buy America”” program that annually increases the percentage of “”Made in America”” goods purchased by Wal-Mart so as to help protect American jobs.
  6. Respect Communities. Work with local communities to effectively address Wal-Mart’s negative impact on issues like traffic, sprawl, the environment, and local businesses.

As you stated recently, “”When you do the right thing, good things accrue to you.”” We agree. Just imagine the good Wal-Mart can do if it works with us to become a better company by doing the right thing – everyday. We hope you will view our “”six demands for change”” as a sincere effort to form a new partnership for change.

In the end, we are not your enemy. Our goal is to be your partner in making Wal-Mart a better business. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how we can help Wal-Mart grow and prosper in new ways. But, make no mistake about it, if Wal-Mart refuses to change for the better, we will continue to build this broad-based social movement into one of the most powerful forces for change the nation has ever seen.

Wal-Mart has an incredible opportunity – right now – to work with us to better the lives of all your workers, to set a new standard for corporate America, to be a better business, and to build a better nation. We hope you will and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

WakeUpWalMart.com – America’s Campaign to Change Wal-Mart.

P.S. This November we, along with a broad coalition of community organizations, will be launching Wal-Mart Week, November 13th – 19th, to highlight Wal-Mart’s negative impact on America. You can go to www.walmartweek.com and learn more about the actions we will be taking and the movie being released. Our hope is that by then, instead of highlighting Wal-Mart’s failures, we can stand together and celebrate a new day at Wal-Mart – a day when real change improved the lives of millions of Americans.