Article Treats Wal-Mart Critics as
Post promotes the union side in the battle
against Southern retailing giant.
By Dan Gainor
May 31, 2005
Â Â Â Â If you want to look for the union label,
you need only turn to the front page of The Washington Post business
section. The May 31, 2005 issue of the Post relied almost
exclusively on pro-union and anti-Wal-Mart voices for a one-sided
story about battling the retail giant.
Â Â Â Â The 1,400-word Post article, headlined
“Logging On With A New Campaign,” was written by Amy Joyce. It
focused on yet another new campaign against Wal-Mart – this one
Internet-based. The campaign was the brainchild of the United Food
and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which hired former employees from
three different failed Democratic presidential campaigns to find new
and creative ways to promote unionization and attack the company.
Â Â Â Â Joyce used only one comment from a
Wal-Mart spokeswoman – just 80 words out of the 1,400 in the story.
The article’s two outside “labor experts” were both pro-union. The
first to comment was Nelson N. Lichtenstein, whom Joyce labeled
“editor of the upcoming book ‘Wal-Mart: Template for 21st Century
Capitalism?’ and director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor
and Democracy at the University of California at Santa Barbara.”
Joyce never mentioned Lichtenstein’s anti-Wal-Mart history.
Â Â Â Â According to the Houston Press of Oct.
30, 2003, he “argues that Wal-Mart's strategy of low wages and high
turnover creates a culture of anti-unionism.” Lichtenstein’s name
also appeared on anti-Wal-Mart petition supporting the Canadian
branch of the UFCW’s efforts to unionize the company in Canada. The
March 30, 2005, press release about the petition cited leftist
professor Noam Chomsky among the other signers. The petition read,
in part: “In order to conform to international human rights
standards, Wal-Mart must cease its active opposition to
Â Â Â Â The other outside expert was Kate L.
Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell
University in Ithaca, N.Y. In the Sept. 3, 2001, issue of the
liberal magazine The Nation, Bronfenbrenner wrote a piece on how
unions need to change their methods so they can organize more
effectively. That article, “Changing to Organize,” included a strong
pro-union position: “If manufacturing is not organized, there will
be nothing to stop the race to the bottom in wages, benefits and
working conditions for all organized and unorganized workers in all
industries,” said Bronfenbrenner. She also appeared in an Oct. 28,
2002, issue of Business Week claiming that companies fire union
activists in one-fourth of all union recruitment drives.
Â Â Â Â The article also relied on comments from
five members of the Internet campaign called “Wake-Up Wal-Mart” and
described them as former staffers “with the Howard Dean, Wesley K.
Clark and John F. Kerry presidential campaigns.” By linking the
group to three different political campaigns, Joyce portrayed the
group as a cross section of Democrats. While technically true, three
of the five worked for the left-wing Dean campaign including Dean’s
former political director Paul Blank. A fourth, Chris Kofinis
“helped originate the DraftWesleyClark.com campaign” but also did
outreach to Nader voters. Only one 25-year-old blogger had ties to
the actual Democratic presidential nominee.