Is Walmart terrorizing Kalpona Akter? Who is she and why is she important to them, and why is she such a threat to them? In the final installment of my five part series on Walmart, we explore the fraud, the malicious treatment of workers, and how Walmart is destroying the health of the nation.
“...Fired while trying to unionize her sweatshop as a teenager and then jailed while mobilizing other workers to resist, Kalpona Akter is now a key leader in the Bangladesh labor movement – a cause cast into an intermittent spotlight by horrific disasters and mass strikes. Over the past year, Akter — now executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity — has salvaged and exposed U.S. brands’ garments from the site of a deadly factory fire, challenged Wal-Mart from the floor of its shareholder meeting, and sought to transform the fashion industry by organizing in concert with U.S. fashion models. (Wal-Mart has blamed production of Wal-Mart apparel in factories where disasters later took place on rogue suppliers, and said in July that the industry-backed safety plan it helped instigate “will move quickly and decisively to create uniform safety standards.”)…”
Walmart is not the most innocent of entities. Not only do they treat their workers badly, but they are quite malicious when persecuting those who try to make working conditions better.
“...The greed of the Walton family is killing Walmart, and they are costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Customers will continue to flee as long as Walmart decides that it would rather be a modern American workhouse instead of a responsible employer….”
“…The real effect of Walmart’s takeover of our food system has been to intensify the rural and urban poverty that drives unhealthy food choices. Poverty has a strong negative effect on diet, regardless of whether there is a grocery store in the neighborhood or not, a major 15-year study published in 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine found. Access to fresh food cannot change the bottom-line reality that cheap, calorie-dense processed foods and fast food are financially logical choices for far too many American households. And their numbers are growing right alongside Walmart. Like Midas in reverse, Walmart extracts wealth and pushes down incomes in every community it touches, from the rural areas that produce food for its shelves to the neighborhoods that host its stores.
Walmart has made it harder for farmers and food workers to earn a living. Its rapid rise as a grocer triggered a wave of mergers among food companies, which, by combining forces, hoped to become big enough to supply Walmart without getting crushed in the process. Today, food processing is more concentrated than ever. Four meatpackers slaughter 85 percent of the nation’s beef. One dairy company handles 40 percent of our milk, including 70 percent of the milk produced in New England. With fewer buyers, farmers are struggling to get a fair price. Between 1995 and 2009, farmers saw their share of each consumer dollar spent on beef fall from 59 to 42 cents. Their cut of the consumer milk dollar likewise fell from 44 to 36 cents. For pork, it fell from 45 to 25 cents and, for apples, from 29 to 19 cents.
Onto this grim reality, Walmart has grafted a much-publicized initiative to sell more locally grown fruits and vegetables. Clambering aboard the “buy local” trend undoubtedly helps Walmart’s marketing, but, as Missouri-based National Public Radio journalist Abbie Fentress Swanson reported in February, “there’s little evidence of small farmers benefiting, at least in the Midwest.” Walmart, which defines “local” as grown in the same state, has increased its sales of local produce mainly by relying on large industrial growers. Small farmers, meanwhile, have fewer opportunities to reach consumers, as independent grocers and smaller chains shrink and disappear. …’
Has this series been fair to Walmart? No, it hasn’t. I detest Walmart. My dislike of it began when I was a small retailer in South Carolina, back in the late 1980s. They would send employees to spy on me. Someone my mother knew would come ‘help’ us in the shop. She was an assistant manager at the local Wallyworld. Before long, the merchandise we were selling was in the local Wallyworld, at half the price.
One of our suppliers was the son of a man who was trying to revive an old textile mill and employ local workers. I was the first person to sell his wonderful product. A year later, he stopped coming in bringing his blankets. He was supplying for Walmart. Then they forced him to lower his costs. He went bankrupt.