Some of you may have gone to a Walmart movie screening recently. There were over 7000 scheduled! That's amazing. If you haven't seen the film yet, go to www.walmartmovie.com and order one for 12.95.
"Walmart: the High Cost of Low Price" was made by Robert Greenwald, who also made the excellent "Outfoxed" (about Fox "news"), "Unconstitutional" (about the PATRIOT Act), and "Unprecedented" (about the 2000 election). I'm a big believer in the power of documentary films to educate and activate people. This time Greenwald set his sights on mega-retailer Walmart, using the sad stories of regular Americans to outline what globalization really means. It's heartening to see interest in this subject at last.
Why target Walmart? The list of reasons goes on and on:
-- They pay inadequate wages and health care benefits to their workers
-- They rely on taxpayers to foot the bills for their workers. Over $1.5 billion in federal tax dollars each year is spent providing basic necessities for Wal-Mart employees - like food stamps and public housing.
-- They fail to meet fair labor standards in multiple ways, including: forcing overtime, refusing to pay for overtime, locking exits until unpaid work is completed, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination.
-- They decimate small businesses and town centers by undercutting local retailers, often family-owned, until they are forced to close.
-- They buy products from known sweatshops around the world with multiple human rights violations, including: mandatory 24-hour work shifts, padlocked exits, extreme heat, no available drinking water, child labor, and wages as low as 9 cents an hour.
-- They hurt the environment in multiple ways, including distributing furniture made of wood from endangered old-growth forests, violating the Clean Water Act regularly, and accelerating sprawl by building new stores mere miles from "smaller" Wal-Mart's and then abandoning the old big boxes, destroying local habitats, and leaving eyesores behind in the process.
To find out more about the problems with Walmart, go to www.responsibleshopper.org
One powerful way to fight back is to take the "No Wal-Mart" Holiday Pledge. It's a campaign being organized by Co-op America. In an easy click action they ask you pledge not to buy anything from Walmart this holiday season. Letters to the Waltons (owners of Walmart and among the top ten richest people in America) are being generated, demanding that they pay workers fair wages, provide adequate health care, value local communities, and treat the planet with respect.
Take the pledge: www.coopamerica.org/takeaction/walmart/index.cfm
We have the power right here in our wallets. Don't buy from Walmart, no matter how tempting those low prices may be. Instead support local businesses, or green businesses or make homemade gifts. You could even be radical and choose to spend no money at all on gifts this year. Give your friends and family the gift of time and friendship instead.