It’s been a tough year for Wal-Mart, and things are about to get tougher.
Last Tuesday, at the world premiere of Robert Greenwald’s Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, SEIU chief Andy Stern declared: “This isn’t just the premiere of a movie, it’s the premiere of a movement.” During the week of November 13 to 19, over 3000 screenings of the film are planned in all 50 states and 19 countries. Throughout “Wal-Mart Week,” the two largest groups opposing the retail behemoth’s practices, Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart, are planning an unprecedented series of actions.
Spiraling into PR crisis mode, the world’s largest corporation has just assembled a “rapid-response public relations team in Arkansas,” which includes former presidential advisors Michael K. Deaver of the Reagan Administration and Leslie Dach of the Clinton White House. Wal-Mart’s new “war room” certainly has its work cut out for itself.
While the movement to change Wal-Mart has reached a fever pitch, throughout the year, Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart have waged a tireless and highly coordinated campaign. Here are some of the highlights:
— Innovative Boycotts: Over 2,000 teachers, students, and activists in more than 20 states participated in Wake Up Wal-Mart’s national “Send Wal-Mart Back to School” campaign with the AFT and NEA (the country’s two largest teacher unions), urging students to buy school supplies at stores other than Wal-Mart. Over 20,000 Americans pledged not to buy their Mother’s Day gifts at Wal-Mart thanks to Wake Up Wal-Mart’s Love Mom, Not Wal-Mart” campaign.
— Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care Campaign: Wake Up Wal-Mart helped coordinate more than120 house parties in 38 states, which led to over 150 actions encouraging legislators to crack down on Wal-Mart’s health care policy. Thanks largely to pressure from Wake-Up Wal-Mart supporters, Rep. Anthony Weiner, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and Sen. Jon Corzine introduced the Health Care Accountability Act in Congress–which would require states to disclose the names of large employers whose workers are on Medicaid as a result of the companies refusal to provide insurance benefits.