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2004-08-20
New York, NY. Forbes Magazine Calls Norman "Giant Slayer"

Today's Forbes magazine (dated 9/6/04) carries a piece entitled "Giant Slayer" that focuses on Al Norman's visit to St. Albans, Vermont to take on Wal-Mart. In the piece, Wal-Mart calls Norman a liar. Here's a quote from the story: "Norman then conjures up the image of a ruthless multinational that uses its economic muscle powered by Third World sweatshops to drive down prices and put small retailers out of business. He mocks Wal-Mart for paying its workers "everyday low wages," saying on average full-time Wal-Mart employees get paid less than $15,000 a year. "Those are all lies," says Wal-Mart spokesperson Mona Williams. "The average annual wage is about $18,600, equal to what many union grocers pay and higher than at most other nonunion retailers." She says a third of the company's hires come from other grocers or places like McDonald's, in search of better wages and benefits. Williams also disputes Norman's claim that just four out of ten workers can afford its health insurance. She says more than 40% of the workers on Wal-Mart's plan had no coverage before joining and 90% have insurance through Wal-Mart or elsewhere. And though Norman likes to say that half of its workers quit every year, that's lower than the 65% national average for retail workers, according to the National Retail Federation... Norman blames Wal-Mart for the fact that "from 1992 to 1997, we lost 9,600 grocery stores." But it's not just small grocers that have gotten in trouble. The sick list includes Grand Union, Pathmark and A&P. "People say Wal-Mart puts small businesses out of business. But it's both consumers and Wal-Mart that put inefficient businesses out of business, including very big chains like Winn-Dixie, Montgomery Ward, Caldors and Ames," says Roger Blackwell, an Ohio State University marketing professor. As for Norman's sweatshops claim, Williams maintains that every week a group of 100 Wal-Mart employees conducts 300 inspections of overseas factories, which by contract must meet United Nations standards of safety and pay. Norman also decries Wal Mart's "boneyard," 371 empty hulks of former Wal-Mart stores. Williams says the number is 250 and that seven Wal-Mart real estate pros work to sell or lease these properties, to become schools, hospitals or call centers. Last year they unloaded the equivalent of 150 supercenters. One of the accusations in a Norman book: "As Wal-Mart lowers the cost of a market basket of consumer goods, and thus the consumer price index, down with it comes the cost of living adjustment that lowers the annual Social Security check for 47 million elders and disabled Americans." Hey, why not blame Wal-Mart for El Niņo?"


What you can do: For the full story, go to www.forbes.com. For the record, in the 2001 Wal-Mart sex discrimination case, it was documented in an affidavit that a Wal-Mart woman cashier made $8.05 an hour. If such an employee were able to get "full time" work at Wal-Mart (34 hours per week) their gross salary, before withholdings, would be $14,287 a year. Female sales associates on the floor made slightly more, $8.27 an hour. It is also true that Wal-Mart like to take credit for lowering the cost of living in the U.S. The other side of that coin is, they therefore are lowering the cost of living adjustment for elderly retirees. These seniors, because they are not typical marketbasket consumers, are hit harder by the lowering of their Cost of Living Adjustment, because their costs are more heavily weighted towards health care costs, which are rising much faster than the rate of inflation. So Wal-Mart does impact their monthly check, even if it gives seniors cheaper underwear.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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