[Marxism] Democratic Party consultants work in Wal-Mart war-room

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 3 09:32:36 MST 2005


>Jonathan Tasini's blog has a commentary on the Times piece Louis
>just sent, as well as a related episode, that of what he calls the 
>"Wal-Mart 22" -- 22 Dems who support Wal-Mart's settlement with
>the Department of Labor that was just lambasted by an investigating
>government agency.
>His handwringing disbelief that any Democrat could do any of this are
>classic.
>see http://workinglife.typepad.com/

Tasini points out that a number of Black Congressional Democrats are on 
board the Wal-Mart train. Wal-Mart has made a concerted effort to represent 
itself as a friend of the Black community. Their intervention into the 
Hurricane Katrina recovery effort was clearly calculated to win 
African-American support.

We should also realize that the Arkansas based Wal-Mart has a very close 
relationship to Bill and Hillary Clinton as this Village Voice article 
points out (of course, the Voice is still a huge fan of Clinton despite this.)

Wal-Mart’s First Lady
Hillary’s Past Belies Her Support of Labor
by Ward Harkavy
May 24 - 30, 2000

Twice in three days last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton basked in the 
adulation of cheering union members. Her record of supporting collective 
bargaining, however, is considerably worse than wobbly.

Pity the thousands of unionists at last Tuesday's state Democratic 
convention who chanted her name, and the hundreds of retired Teamsters at 
Thursday's luncheon in midtown who had interrupted their Founder's Day meal 
to hear the corporate litigator turned union-loving Democrat deliver a 
campaign speech.

They would have dropped their forks if they had heard that Hillary served 
for six years on the board of the dreaded Wal-Mart, a union-busting 
behemoth. If they had learned the details of her friendship with Wal-Mart, 
they might have lost their lunches.

She didn't mention Wal-Mart. Instead, she praised the Teamsters and other 
unionized workers as a "key movement in creating the middle class," and she 
pledged to "prevent anyone from turning the clock back," reminding them 
that "the Republicans are trying to do away with collective bargaining."

As she was leaving the dais, she ignored a reporter's question about 
Wal-Mart, and she ignored it again when she strode by reporters in the 
hotel lobby.

But there are questions. In 1986, when Hillary was first lady of Arkansas, 
she was put on the board of Wal-Mart. Officials at the time said she wasn't 
filling a vacancy. In May 1992, as Hubby's presidential campaign heated up, 
she resigned from the board of Wal-Mart. Company officials said at the time 
that they weren't going to fill her vacancy.

So what the hell was she doing on the Wal-Mart board? According to press 
accounts at the time, she was a show horse at the company's annual meetings 
when founder Sam Walton bused in cheering throngs to celebrate his 
non-union empire, which is headquartered in Arkansas, one of the country's 
poorest states. According to published reports, she was placed in charge of 
the company's "green" program to protect the environment.

But nobody got greener than Sam Walton and his family. For several years in 
the '80s, he was judged the richest man in America by Forbes magazine; his 
fortune zoomed into the billions until he split it up among relatives. It's 
no surprise that Hillary is a strong supporter of free trade with China. 
Wal-Mart, despite its "Buy American" advertising campaign, is the single 
largest U.S. importer, and half of its imports come from China.

Was Hillary the voice of conscience on the board for American and foreign 
workers? Contemporary accounts make no mention of that. They do describe 
her as a "corporate litigator" in those days, and they mention, speaking of 
environmental matters, that she also served on the board of Lafarge, a 
company that, according to a press account, once burned hazardous fuels to 
run its cement plants.

Wal-Mart, though, was the crown jewel of Arkansas, the state's First 
Company fit for a first lady. During her tenure on the board, she 
presumably helped preside over the most remarkable growth of any company 
until Bill Gates came along. The number of Wal-Mart employees grew during 
the '80s from 21,600 to 279,000, while sales soared from $1.2 billion to 
$25.8 billion.

And the Clintons depended on Wal-Mart's largesse not only for Hillary's 
regular payments as a board member but for travel expenses on Wal-Mart 
planes and for heavy campaign contributions to Bill's campaigns there and 
nationally. According to reports in the early '90s, before Bill and Hillary 
moved to D.C., neither was raking in the big bucks, but prominent in their 
income were her holdings of between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of Wal-Mart 
stock.

A press report on the Clintons' finances during the early stages of Bill's 
1992 run for the presidency showed that most of their income came from her 
$109,719 annual salary from the Rose Law Firm and tens of thousands of 
dollars in fees she received from serving on corporate boards. (She was on 
two others besides Wal-Mart's.) Her honoraria and director fees grew almost 
as fast as Wal-Mart's profits during the '80s—rising from $111 in 1980 to 
$6500 in 1986 to $64,700 in 1991, according to the same source.

During the same period, small towns all over America began complaining that 
Wal-Mart was squeezing out ma-and-pa stores and leaving little burgs 
throughout the Midwest and South with downtowns that featured little more 
than empty storefronts.

But selected small companies were doing quite well, thanks to the Clintons' 
friendship with Wal-Mart. The Boston Globe reported in January 1992 that 
Bill Clinton had introduced a brush company's executives to Wal-Mart 
executives, hoping that the two could do bidness. Executives of the brush 
company had been rebuffed in previous attempts to sell their products to 
Wal-Mart. Lucky for the company, it happened to be located in New 
Hampshire, where Clinton was trying to win a presidential primary. At the 
time, Hillary Clinton was still on Wal-Mart's board, and the retail giant 
was still resisting the unionization of any of its workers.

Last week, Hillary was wearing a different hat. She stood in solidarity 
with the elderly Teamsters as Local 237 president Carl Haynes greeted her 
warmly, endorsed her, and then left early on what other union officials 
described as "AFL-CIO business."

But the AFL-CIO was thinking of other business only a few months earlier 
when the union's leaders, including its chief, John Sweeney, marched 
specifically against Wal-Mart's oppression of its meat-market workers. 
According to a Web site run by activists at the AFL-CIO affiliate United 
Food and Commercial Workers, Wal-Mart "has profited by pushing its workers 
to the bottom of the wage scale." The union points out that hourly wages 
"average $2 to $3 per hour less than at unionized supermarkets." More grave 
for workers everywhere in the United States are these figures spouted by 
union activists: Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the country, 
"yet fewer than 40 percent of its workers are covered by the company's 
health plan."

The union notes that Wal-Mart's "hometown" judge in Arkansas issued a 
nationwide temporary restraining order against the UFCW, barring anyone 
associated with the union from entering Wal-Mart facilities to educate 
workers about their legal rights in the workplace. The union, however, 
successfully appealed the order—noting that the judge holds more than 
$500,000 in Wal-Mart stock. The case remains in litigation.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's first lady, who also benefited from Wal-Mart stock, 
solicits support from union workers.

Which makes her words to the elderly Teamsters last week especially 
poignant: "You can count on me to stand up for the right to collectively 
bargain!"

Right on, sister!

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