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The Question Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott Didn’t Answer

September 23, 2005 Updated: August 24, 2020

In an interview with Business Week, posted on their website today, Wal-Mart’s CEO did not answer a very important question.

The reporter asked Mr. Scott why Wal-Mart was reaching out to environmental groups and not WakeUpWalMart.com.  Mr. Scott responded, “”I don’t see any benefit to it. What I found in reaching out to these other groups [environmentalists & anti-sweatshop activists] is that while there are exceptions, in most cases they would like for Wal-Mart to be successful. That is fine with them. What they would like to see us do is change in a way that really makes a contribution to society.””

When the reporter followed up with, “”That isn’t the agenda of the unions?””

Lee Scott responsed with, according to Business Week, “”Silence. No answer.””

“”Why won’t Lee Scott answer the question?”” said Paul Blank, campaign director, WakeUpWalMart.com.  “”WakeUpWalMart.com is offering Wal-Mart a genuine opportunity to form a new partnership for change to improve the lives of their workers, their families and the community.  In an open letter to Wal-Mart’s CEO last week, we wrote, ‘In the end we are not your enemy.  Our goal is to be your partner in making Wal-Mart a better business’.””

Paul Blank continued, “”Instead of answering the demands of the American people, Wal-Mart remains silent.  On behalf of our more than 80,000 supporters, and all Americans, we will make Lee Scott answer the American people’s call for living wages, affordable health care, and respect.  We hope Wal-Mart will wake-up and accept our offer to meet and discuss how we can help Wal-Mart grow and prosper in new ways.””

Below is the open letter WakeUpWalMart.com sent to Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott last week:


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.


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.

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