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Wal-Mart Dragging Down U.S. Labor Standards

November 8, 2005

Kimberly Freeman
202-822-2127, ext. 111
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 WASHINGTON, DC—A new report released today by American Rights at Work unveils how Wal-Mart routinely violates the rights of its employees.  Revelations are continually surfacing about Wal-Mart’s mistreatment of its employees, including accusations of gender discrimination, substandard health benefits, and the denial of lunch breaks, “But most Americans don’t know about how Wal-Mart’s unionbusting activity prevents workers from forming unions to address this mistreatment,” says American Rights at Work Board Chair David Bonior.

WAL-MART: Rolling Back Workers’ Wages, Rights, and the American Dream,” offers a comprehensive examination of the company’s abysmal labor standards, including its poor compensation, difficult working conditions, and effective strategy to remain union-free. 

The report reveals that Wal-Mart has prevented its 1.3 million-member workforce from forming a union by using both legal and illegal means.  The company’s wide-ranging union-avoidance tactics include profiling individual employees at stores that are likely to support unions, and using an anti-union hotline for managers to call at the first sign of employee discontent.  As a result of its behavior, nearly 300 unfair labor charges were filed against Wal-Mart, resulting in almost 100 federal complaints against the company from 1998-2003. 

“Wal-Mart’s willingness to break labor law sends the wrong message to America’s workers and employers,” says American Rights at Work Executive Director Mary Beth Maxwell.  “When the world’s largest employer dominates the market by slashing wages and benefits and violating workers’ rights, it legitimates and accelerates similar behavior among its vendors and rivals,” asserts Maxwell.

The study also explores how Wal-Mart is wreaking havoc on labor standards for U.S. workers beyond its own.  According to data released by University of California at Berkeley for the report, Wal-Mart’s presence in the retail industry is likely reducing the total earnings of American retail workers by $4.7 billion annually.

“As the debate on the social ramifications of Wal-Martization continues, the practice of unionbusting must be included in the conversation,” says Bonior.  “Unless we examine unionbusting at Wal-Mart and the current labor law system that tolerates its practice, we resign ourselves to do more with less—less job security, less time, less health care, and less hope.”

WAL-MART: Rolling Back Workers’ Wages, Rights, and the American Dream is available for download at