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Wal-Mart Foes to Escalate Attacks

NEW YORK -- Wal-Mart is the target of several new negative campaigns being produced by the UFCW and other opponents to the retailer's power and impact on the retailing industry.

In the latest salvo against the Bentonville-Ark.-based operator, an anti-Wal-Mart group ran a full-page newspaper ad in The New York Times yesterday, declaring, "It's Time to Rollback Wal-Mart." The group that created the ad, the Center for Community & Corporate Ethics, claims on its Web site,, that more negative campaigning will follow.

"Wal-Mart may not realize it yet, but this fight will be different," is the ominous message that appeared at the bottom of the group's ad, which claimed that American taxpayers spend $1.5 billion every year to support Medicaid, food stamps, and public housing for Wal-Mart employees. The group is supported by unions, as well as environmentalists, political activists, and women's rights groups, according to reports in the Associated Press.

Separately,, a group operated by members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Group (UFCW), announced yesterday a new grassroots initiative to highlight what it claims is Wal-Mart's systematic discrimination against women workers. The group is launching a "Love Mom, Not Wal-Mart" campaign, in which it is asking all Americans to sign a "Mother's Day Pledge" promising not to buy their Mother's Day gift at Wal-Mart this year, "until Wal-Mart stops discriminating against women." Wal-Mart is currently involved in a gender discrimination lawsuit covering more than 1.5 million women. The case is the largest class action lawsuit in U.S. history.

As part of the campaign, the group said it will also be mailing Lee Scott, c.e.o. of Wal-Mart, Inc., an enormous Mother's Day card that will ask the executive to stop ignoring Wal-Mart's record of discrimination and "start doing the right thing for all our Moms and all women."

Paul Blank, campaign director, said in a statement, "This Mother's day, on behalf of all mothers and women across America, Wal-Mart must do the right thing and stop discriminating against women."

Wal-Mart has been taking what for it are extraordinary steps to counter the fusillade of negative campaigning. At Wal-Mart's first-ever media conference, which was recently held on its home turf in Bentonville, Ark., company executives highlighted the company's diversity policies, as well as its goals in that area.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's s.v.p. of human resources, Susan Oliver, recently defended the company's HR policies during her keynote speech at the New York HR Week 2005 event. She said Wal-Mart always pays above minimum wage; most of its employees are full-time; and the company offers competitive health benefits and participates in a 401(k) program.
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