Wal-Mart: What is to be done? (3 items)

Wal-Mart’s Authoritarian Culture
By NELSON LICHTENSTEIN

MONDAY’S Supreme Court decision to block a class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart was a huge setback for as many as 1.6 million current and former female employees of the world’s largest retailer. But the decision has consequences that range far beyond sex discrimination or the viability of class-action suits.

The underlying issue, which the Supreme Court has now ratified, is Wal-Mart’s authoritarian style, by which executives pressure store-level management to squeeze more and more from millions of clerks, stockers and lower-tier managers.

Indeed, the sex discrimination at Wal-Mart that drove the recent suit is the product not merely of managerial bias and prejudice, but also of a corporate culture and business model that sustains it, rooted in the company’s very beginnings.

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June 14, 2011
Wal-Mart Workers Try the Nonunion Route
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE

After numerous failed attempts to unionize Wal-Mart stores, the nation’s main union for retail workers has decided to try a different approach: it has helped create a new, nonunion group of Wal-Mart employees that intends to press for better pay, benefits and most of all, more respect at work.

The group, Organization United for Respect at Walmart, or OUR Walmart for short, says it has quietly signed up thousands of members in recent months, and it is going public this week with a Web site, ourwalmart.org, and a Facebook page. Organizers say they have more than 50 members at some stores, and they hope to soon have tens of thousands of members. Wal-Mart has nearly 1.4 million workers nationwide.

Although the Web site of OUR Walmart depicts the organization as a grass-roots effort by Wal-Mart workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers has provided a sizable sum — the union will not say how much — to help the group get started. The union has also paid hundreds of its members to go door to door to urge Wal-Mart workers to join the group.

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Five of the Nastiest Examples of Wal-Mart Evil
By Sarah Seltzer, AlterNet
Posted on June 15, 2011, Printed on June 18, 2011

It seems like Wal-Mart is never out of the news. From intensive campaigns to draw attention to sweatshop conditions in their overseas factories, to efforts to keep the discount retail giant out of urban areas where they’d put local stores out of business, to complaints about gun sales and censorship of music, to massive lawsuits filed by workers in stores around the country, the questionable ethics of the giant corporation remain under constant attack. In fact, there’s even a WikiPedia page devoted solely to criticisms of Wal-Mart.

In fact, the company’s union busting is so relentless (simply closing branches that push for unionization) while their worker treatment remains sub-par thatworkers are currently organizing a non-union group to push for fairer wages and hours.

A quick search through AlterNet’s own archives for “Wal-Mart” reveals dozens upon dozens of stories and blog posts from the last decade, detailing everything from worker exploitation in China to “greenwashing” to sex discrimination to, in a case that got decided on appeal last week, breaking an agreement to provide paid rest breaks for workers.

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