The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Arkansas Paper Refuses to Run Anti-Wal-Mart Ad

by Brendan Coyne

Sept. 14, 2005 – Wal-Mart’s hometown newspaper Monday informed a union-backed organization fighting many of the retailer’s practices that it would not run an advertisement it deemed critical of the company. The ad was to feature an open letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott challenging the company to adopt a series of commitments to workers’ rights.

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WakeUpWalMart.com, an organization founded by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), purchased the ad space in the Benton County Daily Record last Friday and was informed of the paper’s decision Monday afternoon, UFCW said in a statement Monday. The ad was to run in Tuesday’s paper.

In the open letter, which the union said had been sent to Scott, WakeUpWalMart.com asks the company to adopt six principles: paying employees a living wage; halting support of and purchases from companies that rely on child labor; pledging to end discrimination in the workplace; offering employees affordable, comprehensive health insurance; focusing on carrying and selling American-made products; and working with communities to address potential negative effects the stores have on traffic congestion, locally-owned businesses and the environment.

Following the destruction Hurricane Katrina caused, Wal-Mart pledged $20 million in cash and supplies to relief efforts, in addition to encouraging employees to pony-up around $4 million in donations, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported yesterday. The company, which has the highest revenues of any business in the world and reported $115.5 billion sales so far in 2005 and over $10 billion in profits for 2004, has been praised for its relief pledge.

In sending the letter, WakeUpWalMart.com challenged Scott to extend the company’s generosity to employees and the communities in which it does business. Hurricane Katrina "brought out the best in Wal-Mart and we applaud your hurricane relief efforts," the letter reads. "We hope Wal-Mart's response to Hurricane Katrina represents a turning point."

"Wal-Mart has an incredible opportunity – right now – to work with us to better the lives of all your workers, to set a new standard for corporate America, to be a better business, and to build a better nation," the letter continues. "We hope you will and look forward to your response."

In denying the ad, the Daily Record told WakeUpWalMart.com that the letter was potentially "defamatory," UFCW noted. Attempts to obtain a more detailed explanation have been unsuccessful so far, the union said. The paper carries a special "Wal-Mart Coverage" section on its website.

The $2,000 ad could be resubmitted if the allegedly "defamatory" and "unsubstantiated" claims are removed, the Democrat-Gazette, reported.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.


Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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