(I’m heading off to the Green Festival in San Francisco today (Nov. 4), so ActNow will take a breather until Tuesday, November 8. In the meantime, please take the time to read the archives, watch for new Nation online commentary on Wal-Mart coming soon and use the comments field to let me know about other campaigns/issues you think I should be highlighting.)
“Is Wal-Mart going wobbly?”
In his Washington Post column yesterday, Harold Meyerson tried to make sense of some unexpected recent moves by America’s largest and most reviled company.
First, Wal-Mart announced plans to soon start offering more affordable health insurance to its employees. Then the company pledged to shift to more environmentally responsible policies and to start monitoring the health and safety practices of its foreign suppliers. Finally, advocates of raising the minimum-wage–stagnant since 1997–received a powerful and unexpected new ally in Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, who called on Congress to act now to raise wages nationwide.
It seems to me that these initiatives ought to be applauded. Wal-Mart is feeling the heat and reacting accordingly. (The company’s share price is down 13 percent.) And this is largely a result of determined organizing dedicated to detailing Wal-Mart’s role as the linchpin of the low-wage, no-benefit economy. Activist groups like Wake-Up Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart Watch should take a bow.
Also at play, as Meyerson points out, is Scott’s correct assessment of his own self-interest. “Wal-Mart is bumping up against a serious problem at least partly of its own making: Because it pitches its products to a disproportionately low-income clientele, its revenue rises and falls with the fortunes of the lower end of the American working class.”
So when the working class is getting royally screwed, Wal-Mart will eventually feel the pain too. (Scott could, of course, raise his own workers’ wages, but he dismissed that out-of-hand, saying that he’s operating “in a very competitive business climate.”)
So the goal for activists now is to keep up the pressure. Scott is smartly showing that he’s not immune to public pressure. And that pressure is about to get worse as award-winning filmmaker Robert Greenwald’s new documentary, The High Cost of Low Price, on Wal-Mart is now out and available. The film is a powerful, emotional and entertaining way to help trigger change in the way America’s largest company conducts business in the US and across the globe. It has the potential to raise much more awareness about what’s wrong with Wal-Mart and why–which is the reason that The Nation is part of a national network supporting and promoting the release of the documentary. (It’s also a really good movie!)
This film will educate, inspire and motivate viewers and with your assistance, it will be an important part of the campaign to make Wal-Mart a better company. Here’s how you can help:
Sign up today to host a screening.
RSVP to attend a screening in your neighborhood.
Download and distribute promo material about the film.
Watch and circulate the film’s trailer.
And, if you’re in the New York City area, check out the film this Tuesday, November 1, at a special premiere, co-sponsored by The Nation, featuring talks by Greenwald and SEIU President Andy Stern. All proceeds go to benefit the Fight to Keep New York Wal-Mart Free. Click here for special pricing information.
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price will debut in a limited theatrical run in NY and LA theaters on November 4th and will expand wide on November 13th to over 3,000 screenings nationwide in theaters, churches, colleges, community centers and living rooms in the largest grassroots mobilization in movie history. Click here for info.