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2005-11-07
Fayetteville, AR. Illegal Workers No Surprise to Wal-Mart

An affidavit unsealed 5 days ago in Fayetteville, Arkansas by a U.S. District Court Judge confirms that Wal-Mart knew that it had illegal workers cleaning its stores. The affidavit was opened only because more than 200 of the illegal workers have sued Wal-Mart, and their lawyer asked for the Immigration and Naturalization files to be opened. In 2003, the federal government conducted raids of Wal-Mart stores in 21 states. More than 60 stores were raided, and at least 245 illegal workers were arrested. The affidavit proves that top managers at Wal-Mart knew these illegals were being hired, some of whom had to sleep in back of the Wal-Mart stores. Last March, the giant retailer spent $11 million to settle the worker's lawsuit, but as is common in such settlements, Wal-Mart said its executives did not know of the illegal hirings. But now the truth has been found in the affidavit, which shows that two Wal-Mart executives knew all about the illegal workers cleaning Wal-Mart stores. The lawyer who asked for the files to be unsealed, James Linsey, told the Associated Press, "The sworn testimony (in the affidavit) establishes that top Wal-Mart executives conspired with contractors to exploit undocumented immigrants." One contractor admitted that a Wal-Mart vice president, Leroy Schuetz, told him to set up "multiple subsidiaries" in case one company got busted, Wal-Mart could just switch its business to another company under the same owners. Undercover federal investigators actually took part in meetings between Wal-Mart vice presidents and contractors. According to the AP, one Wal-Mart Vice President, Stephen Bertschy, described the whole sordid scheme: "And they load them up into one or two apartments and they take a family of five and pay them $1,000 a week, that's probably a dollar an hour if they're there seven days a week and they're not paying taxes because they're not getting paid a fair rate compared to U.S. standards, then they start stealing from the store to make up the difference.''

What you can do: Wal-Mart spends about $1.6 billion a year to convince the public that stories like this one are not true. But here is yet more evidence of a corrupt culture at Wal-Mart that condoned under-the-table payments, illegal working conditions, and exploitation of labor. Fair treatment of its workers does not seem to be part of what "value" means to Wal-Mart. They got cheap labor to clean their stores for the 138 million shoppers who file in and out of Wal-Marts every week, dumb and happy to be buying the cheapest pair of underwear in America. For earlier stories about how Wal-Mart used illegal aliens to build their stores -- not just clean them -- search this database by "illegal."










 
 
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