January 10, 2006
“”Once again, Wal-Mart faces a critical moral test of whether it will do the right thing or ignore the concerns of the American people.
For Wal-Mart’s website to associate movies about prominent African American leaders with “”Planet of the Apes: The TV Series”” is offensive and insensitive.
CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart owe all of America, and especially every African American, not only an apology, but a detailed explanation of how and why Wal-mart’s DVD “”mapping system”” would ever make such racist recommendations.
Was the software programmed to do this or was this just some racist joke? In light of recent accusations of racism at a Wal-Mart store in Florida, as well as Wal-Mart’s history of using a Nazi image in its advertising last year, Wal-Mart owes America a more detailed explanation of how and why this could ever happen.
We call on Lee Scott to launch an immediate and independent investigation to find out how this racist and insensitive incident could happen at Wal-Mart. The American people deserve a real explanation as to how this terrible incident transpired and what steps Wal-Mart has taken to prevent future problems.
We can only hope that Wal-Mart will step up and do what is right for the American people.””
Wal-Mart Statement on Racist Recommendations Made on Wal-Mart Website:
The following comments can be attributed to Mona Williams, Vice President Corporate Communications, Wal-Mart:
Bentonville, Ark. – January 5, 2006 – We are heartsick that this happened and are currently doing everything possible to correct the problem. The offensive combinations that have been identified will be removed from the site by 5:30 CT today. However, with thousands of movie items available, there is an almost endless number of possible combinations. Because of that, we will be shutting down our entire movie cross-selling system until the problem is resolved.
Our system, like those of most other on-line buying sites, refers buyers interested in a particular movie to other movies through a technical process known as “”mapping.””
Walmart.com’s item mapping process does not work correctly and at this point is mapping seemingly random combinations of titles. We were horrified to discover that some hurtful and offensive combinations are being mapped together.
To further illustrate the bizarre nature of this technical issue, the site is also mapping movies such as Home Alone and Power Puff Girls to African American-themed DVDs.
We are deeply sorry that this happened.
January 6, 2006
WAKEUPWALMART.COM HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS/ WAL-MART REPORTS WEAK SALES AND TRAFFIC DECLINE FOR DECEMBER
NATIONAL PRINT & TV MEDIA CAMPAIGN ACHIEVE RECORD IMPACT
DURING FIVE-WEEK EFFORT
Washington D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com proudly announced it had exceeded all of its 2005 goals as part of its unprecedented national holiday campaign during the month of December. WakeUpWalMart.com, which officially launched its five-week 2005 holiday campaign on November 25, 2005, or “”Black Friday,”” set three goals: (1) hold 1000 actions at Wal-Marts in at least 25 states; (2) launch a coordinated multimedia campaign in multiple states; and (3) reach 150,000 supporters. By the end of December, WakeUpWalMart.com exceeded all three of its goals.
“”Again and again, Wal-Mart and Lee Scott thought the American people wouldn’t listen to the truth about their poor business practices. Lee Scott was wrong. Wal-Mart’s poor values matter to consumers, and despite Lee Scott’s claims to the contrary, new public relations initiatives in 2006 are not going to solve Wal-Mart’s growing problem. Lee Scott needs to wake up and listen to the American people’s call for Wal-Mart to change into a responsible corporation,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
During the five-week holiday campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com supporters held 1,420 actions at Wal-Marts in over 186 cities and towns in 41 states. Over ten thousand WakeUpWalMart.com supporters took park in the weekly actions. WakeUpWalMart.com also reached its target goal of 150,000 supporters two weeks early, and finished the holiday campaign with over 162,000 supporters on December 31st.
As part of the 2005 holiday campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com also successfully executed the most coordinated national multimedia campaign to change Wal-Mart in corporate history. The on-the-ground actions in conjunction with the paid media amplified our message to millions of Americans. The multimedia campaign included print, TV, and online internet advertising: full-page ads ran in the New York Times, USA Today; internet ads ran on over 19 websites; and, 15-second and 30-second TV spots highlighting Wal-Mart’s exploitative business practices and the company’s moral failures ran in multiple states as well.
In contrast to WakeUpWalMart.com’s success, and despite the most aggressive Holiday marketing campaign in Wal-Mart’s history (including the unprecedented use of celebrities, starting their advertising two weeks early and a new price guarantee), Wal-Mart reported same-store sales at the lower end of expectations, posted its worst December sales in five years, and reported an actual decline in store traffic for December. In addition, Wal-Mart also reported its profit expectations for the quarter would come in at the low end of expectations.
Wal-Mart’s poor performance in December also raises serious doubts about the credibility of Wal-Mart’s earlier statements which downplayed the dramatic impact our holiday campaign was having on the choices American consumers were making this holiday season. In response to the holiday campaign in early December, Wal-Mart posted the following statement on WalMartFacts.com:
“”The union leadership’s campaign is failing. Wal-Mart had its best October ever. And with sales growth of 4.3% in November and 10 million people shopping our stores during the first 6 hours of Black Friday, we expect a good Holiday season and feel good about our profit margins. “”
In fact, Senior Vice President Jay Fitzsimmons was the only Wal-Mart executive to publicly hint that Wal-Mart’s December sales might not be as good as their November sales and he was stripped of half of his job title on December 23rd.
“”The reality is Wal-Mart’s poor policies are impeding Wal-Mart’s progress. On issue after issue, paying a living wage, providing affordable health care, equal pay for equal work, no more child labor violations, Wal-Mart is out-of-step with the American people,”” added Blank.
Following the success of the 2005 holiday campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com is determined to build on our momentum and create an even larger movement and successful campaign to change Wal-Mart in 2006. In just nine months, beginning on April 5th of 2005, WakeUpWalMart.com has become one of the fastest growing social movements in America. Over the course of 2005, WakeUpWalMart.com launched over ten mini-campaigns, including “”All I Want for Christmas is Health Care for Mommy,”” “”Black Friday Blitz,”” “”Light a Candle for Change,”” “”Wal-Mart Week,”” “”Nothing’s Scarier than Not Having Health Care,”” “”Send Wal-Mart Back to School,”” “”Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care,”” “”Stop the Wal-Mart Nazi Ad,”” and “”Love Mom, Not Wal-Mart.””
January 6, 2006
WAKEUPWALMART.COM ANNOUNCES AGGRESSIVE EFFORT TO INTRODUCE FAIR SHARE HEALTH CARE BILLS IN 30 STATES
Washington, D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com announced it will work to introduce and pass Fair Share Health Care legislation in 30 states. Fair Share Health Care legislation, first introduced in Maryland last year, makes sure large, profitable companies, like Wal-Mart, pay their fair share for health care.
The 2006 effort continues an aggressive campaign last year entitled, “”Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care.”” The campaign included: signing up citizen co-sponsors in all 50 states; helping to introduce the national Health Care Accountability Act sponsored by Senators Kennedy and Corzine and Representative Weiner, hosting hundreds of grassroots house parties in partnership with Democracy for America; and, working with other allies to help educate legislators about this important topic and work with them to introduce this landmark bill in their states.
“”Why would a company with more than $10 billion in profit oppose paying a minimum amount of health care for their workers, their families and their children? It is unconscionable. Wal-Mart has over 600,000 of their workers without company health care, and still has the nerve to oppose a law that would expand health care for their workers,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
In Maryland, state lawmakers passed the first Fair Share Health Care bill last year. After Wal-Mart contributed to his campaign, Governor Ehrlich vetoed this important bill with one of Wal-Mart’s top executives standing by his side. The Maryland legislature will vote on whether or not to override Gov. Ehrlich’s veto at the beginning of the 2006 legislative session slated to start Jan. 11th.
Yesterday, in an interview with the Associated Press, Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott said he thinks the Fair Share Health Care bill in Maryland is “”tragic.”” In response, WakeUpWalMart.com will be mobilizing our grassroots supporters to stand up for this important bill and help expand health care for working people in Maryland by holding corporations accountable for their poor policies.
“”What is ‘tragic,’ Mr. Scott, is that Wal-Mart is the only large company in Maryland who fails to pay its fair share for health care. Next week, Maryland lawmakers will be the first to veto multi-billion dollar corporations trying to sneak out of their health care responsibilities and vote for expanding health care to workers,”” added Blank.
Below is the list of states WakeUpWalMart.com and others will be working to introduce Fair Share Health Care bills this year.
*Maryland (override vote)
December 20, 2005
“”Once again, Wal-Mart’s actions undermine Wal-Mart’s new image campaign.
In late October, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott gave a speech touting Wal-Mart’s new environmental initiatives. But, around the very same time, Wal-Mart learned a grand jury was looking into the improper transporting of hazardous waste. Not to mention, Wal-Mart’s past record of environmental problems.
Wal-Mart’s new public relations strategy of saying one thing and doing another, while disappointing, is not surprising given its use of high-priced image makers, led by Bob McAdam a former Tobacco Institute spokesperson, to mislead the American people about Wal-Mart’s real record.
We can only hope in the New Year, Wal-Mart will hear the calls for change, embrace a new path, and pursue real change which will make the American people proud.””
December 14, 2005
Washington, D.C. – The national momentum for WakeUpWalMart.com’s faith-based campaign grew again today with 13 Baptist Leaders of Faith launching a new initiative to pressure Wal-Mart to change into a more responsible and moral company. The letter released today once again called on CEO Lee Scott to change Wal-Mart into a moral company. The letter from the Baptist leaders states, “”as Christians, at the time of year when we celebrate the life, the birth and the teachings of Jesus, we call on Wal-Mart to change.”” The letter released today is the latest sign momentum is growing in the faith-based community to change Wal-Mart.
“”Once again the moral call for Wal-Mart to change grows louder. We can only hope Wal-Mart will hear our message of change, will change its immoral business practices, and will become a force for good this holiday season,”” stated Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
Today’s letter signed by Baptist leaders from Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Colorado, and Oklahoma, follows last Thursday’s launch of the “”Light a Candle for Change”” campaign. As part of this nation-wide campaign, faith-based leaders joined together to release an interfaith letter calling on Lee Scott to change, candlelight vigils were held in 27 cities in 20 states, and the “”Should People of Faith Shop At Wal-Mart?”” ad was released nationwide.
Since last Thursday, 13 additional leaders of faith from all across America have signed the interfaith letter sent to Lee Scott. In total, 93 leaders of faith, representing well over 1.3 million Americans, have joined together in this growing faith-based initiative to change Wal-Mart into a moral employer. In the letter released last week, the leaders of faith stated “”in the shared spirit of the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values.””
“”Lee Scott and Wal-Mart face a unique moment in their company’s history. Wal-Mart can embrace these moral calls for change from some of America’s most respected leaders of faith or they can continue down the dark path leading to the decline in its public image. We can only hope Wal-Mart will choose to do what is right this holiday season,”” added Paul Blank.
The overall goal of today’s letter and the “”Light A Candle for Change”” campaign is to change Wal-Mart into a responsible corporation that reflects the best moral values of our country. As part of the faith-based grassroots initiative, WakeUpWalMart.com also launched a coordinated online and TV multimedia campaign. The 30-second TV ad, titled “”People”” is the first TV advertisement to highlight Wal-Mart’s moral failures and raise the powerful question – “”Should People of Faith Shop at Wal-Mart?”” this holiday season.
The “”Light A Candle For Change”” campaign is the latest initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s leading grassroots movement to change Wal-Mart. WakeUpWalMart.com is America’s largest campaign to change Wal-Mart with over 150,500 supporters.
December 14, 2005
Rather than address the genuine moral concerns raised by 65 leaders of faith, Lee Scott chose to ignore their concerns, insult them, question their sincerity, and cite manufacturing job losses his company has helped to create. This holiday season, Lee Scott should look into the mirror and consider the millions of American businesses and manufacturing jobs he and his company’s business model have personally helped destroy, and hear the moral calls for change from leaders of faith. We can only hope that someday soon Lee Scott will finally – finally – do what is right for his workers, their families and America.
Lee Scott’s response to a letter by 65 religious leaders asking Wal-Mart to change:
These religious leaders have unfortunately been misled. We know they clearly seek the truth and are in search of the real facts. We share their compassion for people just like we continue to provide jobs to those who want a better life, including adding 100,000 new jobs at Wal-Mart this year. We support charitable causes that make life better in our communities to the sum of about $200 million in charitable giving this year, and we save the average American family $2,300 per household.
In terms of health care, we’re making positive change with new health care programs where we have signed up more than 70,000 associates and 30,000 of their family members to these new plans. Wal-Mart’s health plans will cover more than 1 million people in 2006. We also provide career opportunities to people who want to reach higher goals — three-quarters of our managers started in hourly jobs.
We will not be deterred from our mission, despite the noise from union leadership or critics whose motives are less than pure.
Lee Scott’s response to TV ad:
Surely many Americans are deeply offended that union leadership would use religion as just another tactic in the negative attack campaign against a company that donates more money to good works than any other company in America. And with all the news reports of manufacturers laying off tens of thousands of skilled union workers this Holiday Season, we’d hope the union leadership would show more compassion for its members rather than spending its member dues attacking a company that creates 100,000 jobs a year.
December 14, 2005
LEADERS OF FAITH CALL ON WAL-MART AND CEO LEE SCOTT TO “”CHANGE FOR THE BETTER”” THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Washington, D.C. – Leaders of faith representing over 1.3 million Americans have joined WakeUpWalMart.com in a nationwide initiative to call on Wal-Mart and CEO Lee Scott to “”change for the better”” this Holiday season. As part of this faith-based effort, 65 respected faith-based leaders signed a joint letter to Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, which states “”in the shared spirit of the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values.”” The letter to Lee Scott is part of a new faith-based grassroots and multimedia campaign, named “”Light a Candle for Change,”” launched by WakeUpWalMart.com.
“”This Holiday season, Wal-Mart, America’s largest employer, has the power to change, to become better, to reflect the best of our values. It is our sincere hope Wal-Mart will choose the higher road and become a moral example that all people of faith can embrace proudly,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
The goal of the “”Light A Candle for Change”” campaign is to change Wal-Mart into a responsible corporation that reflects the best moral values of our country. The letter to Lee Scott goes on to state “”there is no better present Wal-Mart could give to its workers, their families, and America than to change for the better this holiday season.”” As part of this new campaign, the families and children of supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com will also be holding local candlelight vigils at Wal-Marts in at least 27 cities in 19 different states, including Oregon, Kentucky, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Illinois.
“”Out of our religious heritage comes the recognition that we are not allowed to deprive people of their God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In this respect the Wal-Mart form of business represents plantation capitalism; the few become very wealthy and the many become poorer,”” stated Reverend James Lawson of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA.
The faith-based grassroots initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com will also include a coordinated online and TV multimedia campaign. The TV ad, titled “”People,”” is the first TV advertisement to highlight Wal-Mart’s moral failures and raise the powerful question – “”Should People of Faith Shop at Wal-Mart?”” this holiday season. The 30-second TV spot will be running in 6 states, including Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia. The ad can also be viewed at WakeUpWalMart.com.
A copy of the letter and the script for TV spot are attached.
The “”Light A Candle For Change”” campaign is the latest initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s leading grassroots movement to change Wal-Mart. WakeUpWalMart.com has over 148,000 members and supporters in all 50 states.
** Script of “”People”” **
Our faith teaches us
“”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you””
If these are our values, then ask yourself
Should people of faith shop at Wal-Mart this Holiday season?
When Wal-Mart repeatedly broke child labor laws.
Is being sued by 1.5 million women for discrimination.
And, over 600,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families have no company health care.
If these are Wal-Mart’s values
Should people of faith shop at Wal-Mart?
** Letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott **
Dear Mr. Scott,
The holiday season is a time to honor and remember the virtues of hope, love, joy, sharing, sacrifice, and faith. For people of all faiths, the celebration of the holiday season is a time to remember and embrace the best of our values. It is a time to reflect upon our lives, the impact we have on others, and the responsibility we all have to improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.
The prophet Moses in Deuteronomy 25:13-15 teaches “”Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy … lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.”” During this holy season, we must ask ourselves – at what moral price do we accept the sins of exploitation and greed? Sins, it is sad to say, which are exemplified by one of America’s largest and richest corporations, Wal-Mart.
Everyday, Wal-Mart’s so-called low prices come at a high cost to the moral virtues and greatness of your workers, our families, and our nation. Everyday, America pays too high a cost for Wal-Mart’s immoral business practices.
As all faiths teach us, the current exploitation of those who work to provide us with goods and services, whether at Wal-Mart or its suppliers, can never be morally justified. Under all conditions, it is simply immoral and wrong. It goes against the teachings of our spiritual leaders and our commitment to justice, fairness, and community.
If there is one shared hope all faiths have in common, it is the central belief that we must work together to improve the lives of others. This central tenet, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ is the bedrock of our values, our faith, our families and our communities.
Unfortunately, Wal-Mart needlessly ignores the Golden Rule putting our children and their workers needlessly at-risk.
Despite $10 billion in profit last year, more than 600,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families struggle with no company-provided health care. Even more troubling, nearly 1 out of every 2 children of Wal-Mart workers lives without health care or relies on a public program. Wal-Mart has repeatedly broken child labor laws. Wal-Mart is being sued by 1.5 million female employees for discrimination. And, Wal-Mart continues to pay poverty-level wages, forcing many of its workers to make the impossible choice between rent and health care.
It is hard to imagine why Wal-Mart would consciously choose to make 1.3 million workers suffer in the name of “”low prices,”” a suffering we can no longer let stand.
For those of us who are Christians, we celebrate the life, the birth and the teachings of Jesus, and we call on Wal-Mart to change. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we ask ourselves:
Would Jesus support the exploitation of so many for the profit of so few?
Would Jesus tolerate systematic discrimination against women?
Would Jesus stand by idly while thousands of children go without health care?
Would Jesus accept violations of child labor laws?
The answer is simple. Jesus would not embrace Wal-Mart’s values of greed and profits at any cost, particularly when children suffer as a result of those misguided values.
Those of us who are Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist also have scriptures that remind us that God is just and God’s servants must practice justice in all of our words and deeds. As we prepare to celebrate our own holiday traditions, we also ask ourselves, is it right to shop at Wal-Mart? Would our God want us to support Wal-Mart’s values and actions with our dollars?
We know Wal-Mart has the power to improve the lives of millions of workers, their families, and our communities. Wal-Mart can become, if you and the Walton Family so choose, a leading example of moral greatness in corporate America. You have the power to change and set an example that would truly honor and reflect the call of all faith traditions to righteousness and justice.
So beginning today, in the shared spirit of the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values. It is within your power to become a truly responsible, ethical, and righteous company.
In the end, there is no better present Wal-Mart could give to its workers, their families, and America than to change for the better this holiday season.
Reverend John H. Thomas, President, United Church of Christ
Reverend James Lawson, Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA
Kim Bobo, Executive Director, Interfaith Worker Justice
Bishop Gabino Zavala, Regional Bishop in the San Gabriel Pastoral Region (Archdiocese of Los Angeles, CA)
Reverend Doctor William Jarvis Johnson, Calvary CME Church of Pasadena, CA
Reverend Alexia Salvatierra, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)
Father Michael Pfleger, Faith Community of St. Sabina Parish, Chicago, Illinois.
Reverend Bennie E. Whiten, Jr., United Church of Christ
Retired Bishop Jesse DeWitt of the United Methodist Church
Reverend Mark Wendorf, McCormick Theological Seminary and Board Member of Interfaith Worker Justice
Professor William P. Quigley, Loyola University New Orleans School of Law and Board member of Interfaith Worker Justice
Dr. Edie Rasell of the Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ.
Reverend Ron Stief, Director of Washington, D.C. office, United Church of Christ
Pastor Sylvia Tucker, Union Baptist Church of Hopewell, VA
Mr. Ralph Ramirez, President of Richmond, VA Southern Council Leadership Conference Chapter
Reverend Rebekah Jordan, Mid-South Interfaith Network for Economic Justice
Reverend Sinclair Oubre, J.C.L. of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church of Port Arthur, TX
Reverend Doctor John J. O’Brien, C.P.
Reverend Bridgeforth, Shiloh Baptist Church, VA
Reverend King, Southern Council Leadership Conference of Danville, VA
Reverend Rufus Fuller II Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, VA
Reverend William Avon Keen of Traynham Grove Church,VA
Reverend John Snider, Saint Stephen’s Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, MN
Reverend Bill Bulson, Holy Apostles, MN
Reverend Timothy M Johnson, Cherokee Park United Church of St. Paul, MN
Reverend Johnathan C. Tetherly, Chaplain of Hampden County House of Corrections, MA
Father Thomas Mueller, S.S. Cyril & Methodist Orthodox Church, WI
Father Jerry Schroeder, St. Benedict the Moor Parish of Milwaukee, WI
Reverend Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, Good Sheperd Lutheran Church in Waukesha, WI
Reverend Kelly Fowler, First United Methodist Church of Waukesha, WI
Reverend Doctor Ronald Faust, Kansas City Interfaith Worker Justice, MO
Reverend Tom Blakley, Barry Christian Church, MO
Reverend Spencer Barrett, Co-chair, Kansas City Interfaith Worker Justice, MO
Pastor Robin Hood Senior Pastor, Redeemed Outreach Ministries, IL
Reverend Fr. Alfredo Gundrum , Pastor of St. Kevin, Chicago, IL
Reverend Jose Landaverde, Amor de Dios, United Methodist Church, IL
Reverend William F. Marx, Pax Christi of Western New York
Reverend Dan Schifeling, Church of Nativity, United Church of Christ
Sister Jean Sliwikski, Western New York Workers’ Rights Board
Reverend Suzelle Lynch, Unitarian Universalist Church, Brookfield WI
Reverend Doctor. Roland Womack, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, Progressive Baptist Church, Milwaukee, WI
Pastor Susan Burchfield, Immanuel Lutheran Church of Seattle, WA
Reverend Richard Vogel, Executive Pastor, St. James United Methodist Church, Kansas City, MO
Reverend Emanuel Cleaver II, St. James United Methodist Church of Kansas City, MO
Reverend Norman D. Copeland, AME Church, Los Angeles, CA
Reverend Calvin S. Morris, Ph.D. Executive Director Community Renewal Society of Chicago, IL
Reverend Jennifer Kottler, Protestants for the Common Good of Chicago, IL
Reverend Jon M. Luopa, Univeralist Unitarian Church of Seattle WA
Sisters of St Joseph of Springfield, MA Justice and Peace Committee
Reverend William F. Brisotti, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church, NY
Reverend Catherine Schulyer, Protestant Campus Ministry of Stony Brook, NY
Reverend Richard E. Edwards, Stony Brook Community Church, NY
Reverend Thomas W. Goodhue, Executive Director, The Long Island Council of Churches, NY
Reverend Paul Ratzlaff, The Unitarian Universalist of Fellowship of Huntington, NY
Sister Rosemary Everett, SNJM, Sisters of the Holy Names, CA
Father Bill Leininger, Human Concerns Commission, Diocese of San Jose, CA
Monsieur Gene Boyle, St. Thomas Aquinas of Palo Alto, CA
Reverend John Freesemann, Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church of San Jose, CA
Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash of Los Gatos, CA
Reverend Carol Been, The Interfaith Council of San Jose, CA
Ms. Mary Quinn Kambic, Catholic Labor Committee of Baltimore, MD
Ms. Evely Laser Shlensky, Board member, Executive Committee, Interfaith Worker Justice
Mr. Monroe B. Sullivan, National Board Member, Interfaith Worker Justice
Ms. Karen Herrling, Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network
Mr. Stephen Hand, Editor, Traditional Catholic Reflections
December 14, 2005
WASHINGTON—The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union—the nation’s largest poultry workers’ union—applauds efforts by House Democrats to protect front line poultry workers in the event of an outbreak of Avian Flu. This crucial legislation which addresses the needs to combat Avian Flu also contains language to convene a meeting of experts, representatives of the poultry industry, and representatives of poultry workers to evaluate the risk to poultry workers, the likelihood of transmission, and necessary measures to protect poultry workers from exposure.
The nation’s 200,000 poultry workers produce 500 million pounds of chicken every week. In the event of an outbreak of Avian Flu, we must have a plan to protect these workers—the chicken catchers and those that slaughter, process, and package the millions of chickens and turkeys that Americans eat each year.
To date, the Bush Administration has failed to include front line poultry workers in the discussion of the Avian Flu pandemic.
“Workers in America’s poultry industry would be the first to notice sick birds, the first to risk exposure to the deadly virus, and the first to sound the alarm. That’s like making poultry workers canaries in a mine—leaving them to contract the disease, suffer, and perhaps die as a warning of the coming pandemic,” said UFCW President Joe Hansen.
December 1, 2005
Washington, DC – The first national survey of public attitudes and opinions about Wal-Mart by Zogby International finds American adults hold an increasingly negative view of Wal-Mart. The poll found 38 percent, or nearly 4 in 10 Americans, hold an unfavorable opinion of Wal-Mart, and 46 percent of Americans believe Wal-Mart’s public image is worse than it was 1 year ago.
The poll found that 56 percent of American adults agreed with the statement – “”Wal-Mart was bad for America. It may provide low prices, but these prices come with a high moral and economic cost.”” In contrast, only 39 percent of American adults agreed with the opposing statement – “”I believe Wal-Mart is good for America. It provides low prices and saves consumers money every day.””
“”Despite two high-priced image makeovers, Wal-Mart’s public image is in a tailspin. Over the last year, Wal-Mart’s image has declined at an alarming rate with the American people. Unless Wal-Mart addresses these growing concerns, the company will face a mounting public backlash,”” stated Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
The Zogby poll, commissioned by WakeUpWalMart.com, was a national telephone survey of 1,012 adults conducted by Zogby International from 11/15/05 through 11/18/05 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.
The effect of the WakeUpWalMart.com campaign over the last year can be best assessed by comparing several questions from the new Zogby poll to results from a similar national poll conducted by Lake, Snell, Perry in January 2005.
Wal-Mart Overall Favorability
In terms of overall favorability, in the span of about 11 months, Wal-Mart experienced a decline of 18 percentage points in the number of American adults who view the company favorably. Most striking is a 15 percentage point decline in the number of Americans who hold a “”very favorable opinion.””
Jan 05 Nov 05 Difference
Very Favorable 45 30 -15
Somewhat Favorable 31 28 -3
Fav 76 58 -18
Somewhat Unfavorable 11 19 +8
Very Unfavorable 9 19 +10
Unfav 20 38 +18
No Opinion/Not sure 4 4 –
Wal-Mart Shopping Frequency
The Wal-Mart shopping frequency of American adults has also changed. A comparison of the two polls suggests a decrease of 18 percentage points among high frequency Wal-Mart shoppers (i.e. weekly and 1-2/ month), but an increase of 12 percent in the number of respondents who shop at Wal-Mart less frequently. Most interesting, there is a 5 percent increase in the number of American adults who choose not to shop at Wal-Mart. These results, however, do not directly impact Wal-Mart sales, as consumers who still choose to shop at Wal-Mart may have simply increased their overall values of their purchase.
Jan 05 Nov 05 Difference
Weekly 33 24 -9
1-2/Month 36 27 -9
Several times a year 13 16 +3
Hardly ever 11 20 +9
Never 8 13 +5
Wal-Mart Favorability Based on Recent Events
Recent news events are having an impact on Wal-Mart’s rising negative image. In asking people whether or not recent news events have altered their feelings of favorability/unfavorability towards Wal-Mart, there is a growing perception that Wal-Mart is less favorable. Since January 2005, 28 percent more American adults have heard, seen, or read something about Wal-Mart that makes them feel less favorable toward the company.
Jan 05 Nov 05 Difference
Much more favorable 10 11 +1
Somewhat more favorable 18 11 -7
More favorable 18 22 -6
Somewhat less favorable 13 29 +16
Much less favorable 14 26 +12
Less favorable 27 55 +28
No impact/not sure 43 24 –19
Wal-Mart’s Favorability & Public Image Compared to Competitors
In terms of favorability, Americans hold very different opinions of two of the largest retailers – Wal-Mart and Target. For example, 73 percent of respondents hold a favorable opinion of Target versus 13 percent who hold an unfavorable opinion, while 58 percent of respondents hold a favorable opinion of Wal-Mart versus 38 percent who hold an unfavorable opinion. And compared to one year ago, a large majority of Americans (65%) agree that Wal-Mart has a more negative public image now than compared to last year, while 28 percent disagreed. In contrast, and just as a baseline comparison, only 14 percent of Americans believe that Target’s public image is more negative, while 55 percent disagreed.
These results are more striking in light of the significant financial commitment by Wal-Mart over the last year to try and improve its public image.
America’s Wal-Mart Debate
The debate about whether or not Wal-Mart is good or bad for America is occurring. In a comparison of two statements, 56 percent of Americans agreed “”Wal-Mart is bad for America”” (statement B), with only 39 percent of Americans stating Wal-Mart is “”good for America”” (statement A).
Statement A – I believe that Wal-Mart is good for America. It provides low prices and saves consumers money every day.
Statement B – I believe that Wal-Mart is bad for America. It may provide low prices, but these prices come with a high moral and economic cost for consumers.
Further results indicate that 6 in 10 American adults believe Wal-Mart is seen as a retail monopoly that threatens the American economy, 61 percent of Americans are concerned that Wal-Mart is too powerful an economic force in America, and 63 percent of Americans agree that the impact of the Wal-Mart business model should be investigated by our nation’s elected political leaders.
Questions Referenced from Zogby Poll
I am going to read to you a list of stores. Please tell me if your overall opinion of each is very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or a very unfavorable.
1. Very favorable 34
2. Somewhat favorable 39
3. Somewhat unfavorable 7
4. Very unfavorable 6
5. NF/Not sure (do not read) 15
1. Very favorable 30
2. Somewhat favorable 28
3. Somewhat unfavorable 19
4. Very unfavorable 19
5. NF/Not sure (do not read) 4
In general, thinking back on what you have recently seen, heard or read about Wal-Mart in the last few months, does it make you much more favorable, somewhat more favorable, somewhat less favorable, or much less favorable toward Wal-Mart?
1. Much more favorable 11
2. Somewhat more favorable 11
3. Somewhat less favorable 29
4. Much less favorable 26
5. Not sure (Do not read) 24
In general, based on what you have recently seen, heard, or read about Wal-Mart, do you believe Wal-Mart’s public image is much better, slightly better, slightly worse, much worse, or about the same than it was 1 year ago?
1. Much better 5
2. Slightly better 7
3. Slightly worse 28
4. Much worse 18
5. About the same 37
6. Not sure (Do not read) 5
Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree that Wal-Mart has a more negative public image now than compared to last year?
1. Strongly agree 36
2. Somewhat agree 29
3. Somewhat disagree 17
4. Strongly disagree 11
5. Not sure (Do not read) 7
Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree that Target has a more negative public image now than compared to last year?
1. Strongly agree 4
2. Somewhat agree 10
3. Somewhat disagree 27
4. Strongly disagree 28
5. Not sure (Do not read) 31
Wal-Mart is America’s largest employer with 1.3 million workers, 3700 stores, 289 billion dollars in sales, and $10 billion dollars in profits. Are you very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not all concerned that Wal-Mart is too powerful an economic force in America?
1. Very concerned 33
2. Somewhat concerned 30
3. Not too concerned 15
4. Not all concerned 20
5. Not sure (Do not read) 2
Do you, personally, strongly agree, somewhat agree, or do not agree at all that Wal-Mart is a retail monopoly that threatens the future health of the American economy?
1. Strongly agree 33
2. Somewhat agree 28
3. Don’t agree at all 35
4. Not sure (Do not read) 5
Some critics suggest Wal-Mart is having a negative social and economic effect on the country, others argue Wal-Mart has a positive social and economic effect. Do you, personally, strongly agree, somewhat agree, or do not agree at all that our nation’s elected political leaders should investigate the effects Wal-Mart is having on the American economy and society?
1. Strongly agree 34
2. Somewhat agree 28
3. Don’t agree at all 34
4. Not sure (Do not read) 4
November 29, 2005
If a bird flu pandemic were to break out in the United States, workers in America’s poultry industry would be the first to notice sick birds, the first to risk exposure to the deadly virus, and the first to sound the alarm. That’s why the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has sent a letter to President Bush urging him to initiate coordinated protection for poultry workers on the front lines by initiating a Cabinet-level meeting to discuss worker issues and the potential pandemic.
The poultry industry is a major force in the U.S. economy, generating more than $35 billion per year in revenue. The nation’s 200,000 poultry workers produce 500 million pounds of chicken every week. We must have a plan to protect these workers-the chicken catchers and those that slaughter, process, and package the millions of chickens and turkeys that Americans eat each year.
The Bush administration has taken the first, important steps in containing a potential outbreak of bird flu by discussing and planning the control of the virus at its source-in animals.
However, if we are to avoid a pandemic, America’s plan to contain the bird flu must have a worker component. The Bush administration should consider:
–Direct contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces and objects is considered the main route of human infection. This kind of direct contact is the norm for workers in the poultry industry. A poultry worker immunization program will prevent the spread of the disease and assure the public that a meaningful step has been taken to contain the disease at its source.
–Poultry workers are in the best position to visually identify sick birds and report suspected cases of bird flu. These front line workers are the nation’s best defense against a pandemic, but they will need whistleblower protections in order to avoid discrimination and to assure that profit doesn’t override health and safety.
–Many immigrant, undocumented, or Spanish-speaking poultry workers are unaware of workplace safety regulations. This population is unlikely to ask for safety and health protections such as respirators or flu shots. Unfortunately, a recent sting operation where ICE agents posed as OSHA officials has hurt the credibility of government safety programs and further increased immigrants’ mistrust of government. We must reach out to these workers with health and safety information and we must strictly enforce a policy that prohibits sting operations that undermine OSHA credibility.
These worker issues are of paramount importance. Worker organizations, like unions, should be consulted and integrated into the effort. The UFCW stands ready to work with all interested stakeholders, including worker representatives, government agencies, and poultry companies.