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Finding Friends in Low Places at Wal-Mart
American Rights at Work Unveils Flash Cartoon to Expose the Retail Giant’s Anti-Union Campaign
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2006

CONTACT:
Kimberly Freeman
202-822-2127, ext. 111
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WASHINGTON, DC—Workers' rights advocate American Rights at Work launched a Flash cartoon today targeting Wal-Mart's ruthless anti-union campaign. "Friends with Low Wages" features the likeness of Garth Brooks and parodies his 1990 hit "Friends in Low Places."  It can be viewed at www.WalMartWorkersRights.org.

In the cartoon, Brooks, whose music is now distributed exclusively by Wal-Mart and is one of the celebrities featured in Wal-Mart's holiday advertising campaign, gets the chance to learn the truth about how Wal-Mart treats its workers.  And the singer, who's known to champion the little guy in his music, doesn't like what he sees.

News continually surfaces of Wal-Mart's abuse of its employees, which ranges from accusations of gender discrimination to substandard health benefits. "But just like Garth, most Americans don't know that Wal-Mart's over-the-top unionbusting antics prevent workers form forming unions to address their mistreatment," said David Bonior, Chair of American Rights at Work.

Wal-Mart employees who simply want to negotiate for better wages, affordable health care, and basic protections on the job encounter huge obstacles and overwhelming resistance. The company's employees make 25 percent less than workers with union representation in comparable positions.  Many have no health insurance at all, resorting to Medicaid and other state programs in order to provide coverage for their families. 

"When Wal-Mart employees stand up for themselves and try to form a union, they often face threats, propaganda, discrimination, intimidation, and even firings in retaliation," said Bonior.

Wal-Mart's efforts to stop workers from forming unions in its stores are swift and overwhelming:

  • The company taps into calls and emails from stores around the country to monitor whether anyone is talking about forming a union.
  • Store officials receive a toolkit to "Remaining Union Free" and are encouraged to call a hotline at the first sign of any employee interest in a union.
  • Wal-Mart dispatches a rapid-response anti-union squad at any indication of its employees considering union formation.

The cartoon is the latest effort by American Rights at Work to expose workers' rights violations at Wal-Mart and in other U.S. workplaces.  In November, the group released "WAL-MART: Rolling Back Workers' Wages, Rights, and the American Dream," a report offering a comprehensive examination of the company's abysmal labor standards, including poor compensation, difficult working conditions, and a combative strategy to remain union-free.

"We hope people will agree that the cartoon is hilarious, but not forget the issue is a serious one," said Mary Beth Maxwell, Executive Director of American Rights at Work.  "We are encouraging the public to find out the truth about Wal-Mart's unionbusting ways and speak out against its ruthless tactics."