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Walmart's first response to the garment factory fire that killed more than 100 workers in Bangladesh was to deny that any Walmart clothes were made in the factory. Then clothes from Walmart's Faded Glory brand were found in the factory, so Walmart switched to claiming that it had stopped doing business with that company but a rogue supplier had subcontracted to the factory, so really, Walmart had nothing to do with it. But it turns out it wasn't one rogue supplier subcontracting to a factory Walmart had stopped doing business with. Five different Walmart suppliers were doing business with the Tazreen factory, accounting for five of its 14 production lines in September, documents show.

Scott Nova, executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, told Steven Greenhouse that "It stretches credulity to think that Walmart, famous for its tight control over its global supply chain, didn’t know about this." It does indeed, but that's Walmart's M.O. Whether it's a factory in Bangladesh making clothes for five different Walmart suppliers or a warehouse in California moving goods exclusively for Walmart, the retail giant exerts tight control while blaming abuses on a maze of subcontractors, as if those subcontractors weren't entirely beholden to Walmart.

Predictably, a spokesman continues to insist that the company had terminated its relationship with the Tazreen factory and that its goods shouldn't have been being manufactured there. Of course, the same spokesman also insists that Walmart is "advocating for improved fire safety" in Bangladesh, despite the fact that the company said no to paying suppliers enough to make safety improvements possible.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 12:45 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This company (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mentatmark, eeff

    is Satan incarnate. It needs to be brought down. I don't know how to do that other than not shop there--I wish millions of other people felt that same way.

    •  Millions do shop there though. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RUKind, squarewheel, BachFan

      Tens of millions. Actually, millions work there. There is a reason though that people shop there - for Americans in poverty, Walmart offers a real value proposition. The way they get supplied and the way they treat workers may indeed be evil. But there is a flipside too - they remade the retail industry, bring down prices significantly for working-class Americans. You can't say that there is no positive in that. Poor people may be poor, but they aren't stupid. They value Walmart for a reason, right?

      •  The prices are cheap and so is life at WalmartLand (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annieli, stratdan

        They should be boycotted as much as possible. The damage they do is epidemic and insidious.

        "Good morning, brothers Koch. I see you're doing well. If I had me a shotgun, I'd blow you straight to hell." w/apologies to R. Hunter

        by RUKind on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:20:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Prices are cheap because the sweatshops don't have (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sarenth, stratdan, OldDragon

          to worry about people dying so the suppliers can keep prices down. And also the suppliers don't have to worry about making work places accessible to the disabled.
          The real reason the UN Disability Treaty was voted down last week had nothing to do with USA sovereignty, but the supplier wanting to keep prices down at the expense of health and safety of other nations.

      •  Wal Mart is part of the reason for their poverty. (7+ / 0-)

        Millions of people work at Wal Mart, yes. But before Wal Mart came in, there were more jobs.

        The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

        by A Citizen on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:43:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, maybe 1% of the reason (0+ / 0-)

          theyre poor is directly attributable to walmart. Some small, but finite number. But that doesn't mean that walmart is not a net positive for the vast majority of its customers. Plus, walmart's mere existence has forced other retailers to lower their prices. To ignore this data in favor of your closely-held belief that walmart must be 100% bad is akin to tea partiers who ignore data on climate change.

          Poverty in America was mnot single-handedly caused by walmart.

          •  Keep telling yourself that. (0+ / 0-)
            To ignore this data in favor of your closely-held belief that walmart must be 100% bad is akin to tea partiers who ignore data on climate change.
            I never said that Wal Mart was 100% bad. It's more bad than it is good. But I'll stick to evidence .

            The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

            by A Citizen on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 12:17:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not clear that shopping at wal-mart (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bontemps2012

        is some sort of stroke of genius.

        they're cheaper and people are buying cheap.

        the part that they haven't figured out is that part of the reason they are poor is because of wal-mart.

        so maybe not as insightful as you seem to think.

        big badda boom : GRB 090423

        by squarewheel on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 11:22:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sure, because uprooting (0+ / 0-)

        communities, their businesses, and their infrastructure to provide cheap goods and services to overworked, underpaid employees is a win-win if the shopper doesn't care about the community they live in.  They can sit back in satisfaction as they save a few cents on the dollar while another home business plummets into insolvency.  

        "You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind." -Morpheus, The Matrix

        by Sarenth on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 01:39:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Millions of others do feel the same way (0+ / 0-)

      You're not alone out there.

      "Good morning, brothers Koch. I see you're doing well. If I had me a shotgun, I'd blow you straight to hell." w/apologies to R. Hunter

      by RUKind on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:27:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  roll back Wal Mart forever (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RUKind
    (2005) "Wal-Mart has said it reviewed and cleared for publication a full-page advertisement in the May 8 edition of the Arizona Daily Sun featuring a 1933 photo of Germans throwing books on a pyre at Berlin's Opernplatz. The ad was part of a campaign, funded by Wal-Mart, to defeat a Flagstaff, Ariz., ballot initiative that would have restricted the chain's growth. Voters later narrowly rejected the measure."

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:09:29 PM PST

  •  Those economic chains have been in the making (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, OldDragon

    for yeeeaarrsss... Remember! Walmart does GREAT when the economy is shitty. I know because Mr. Gazer used to shop there and stock up on canned goods when he didn't feel secure about his job at the LDT assembly plant (he is an 07 hire after all). Now with the full wage he has been receiving, he has been buying food from Horrocks and the general use goods from other stores whenever possible. Mostly Costco when we meet up for the weekend.

    Now Walmart just does its say one thing do another for the PR contortion just to look good yet not owe up to any responsibilities it should have. They do for everything they do wrong.

    Why hello there reality, how are you doing?

    by Future Gazer on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:13:50 PM PST

  •  "Walmart" should become synonymous (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, Icicle68

    With self serving lying. Just like "FOX 'News'" should become synonymous with political shilling disguised as news.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:20:35 PM PST

  •  Just don't go in one of their stores (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sarenth

    There are alternatives for a little bit more. It can be a lot easier on your conscience.

    Walmart is evil. A curse on the Walton family and heirs and their ill gotten gains.

    "Good morning, brothers Koch. I see you're doing well. If I had me a shotgun, I'd blow you straight to hell." w/apologies to R. Hunter

    by RUKind on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:24:42 PM PST

  •  Enforcement of health and safety laws (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sarenth

    Associated Press:

    A Dhaka fire official said the Tazreen factory's fire safety certification had expired on June 30, and fire officials refused to renew it because the building did not have the proper safety arrangements.
    In the two weeks since the Nov. 24 blaze, the fire department has inspected 232 factories in the industrial area where Tazreen was located. It found that more than one-quarter of them -- 64 -- were category C, meaning they didn't have all the proper measures in place, including fire safety licenses, fire extinguishers, water reservoirs and workers trained to fight a fire, said Dhaka fire chief M. Abdus Salam.

    The factories without the proper licenses and safety measures would be shut if they fail to address the issues within a month, he said.

    Clearly, the Bangladesh government must take its share of the blame for permitting substandard conditions to exist -- and Walmart (along with Sears and others) for knowingly exploiting the lax enforcement.

    Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

    by winsock on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:44:38 PM PST

  •  Walmart execs. may not stay awake worrying (0+ / 0-)

    about what other unforeseen tragedy lurks, ... but I too often do sometimes.

    "God bless us, every one!" ~ T. Tim

    by jwinIL14 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:52:08 PM PST

  •  What Happened To "Buying American"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon

    So long, long ago.

    ..."Buying American" campaign... An extremely patriotic person, Walton decided to do something about America's balance of payments problems in the mid-1980s. He launched a determined effort to market American-made products. Included in the effort was a willingness to find American manufacturers who could supply merchandise for the entire Wal-Mart chain at a price low enough to meet the foreign competition. Between March, 1985 and 1988 Wal-Mart claims to have purchased over $1.2 billion worth of goods under this program, producing 22, 3000 jobs in the United States.
  •  Poor Americans getting sold cheap stuff by (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bontemps2012

    abusing poor Asians. Ain't capitalism grand?

  •  The solution: Fair Trade USA. (0+ / 0-)

    This operation provides a tag for merchandise that says "Fair Trade."

    To qualify for the tag, the producer has to meet standards for wages, hours, safety. Coffee and bananas do it with a small start going in clothing as well.

    How hard was that ???

    -- http://www.fairtradeusa.org

    This system should be  expanded to all Third World production. I do mean all.

    We could also talk about how the quality of Wal-Mart clothes -- particularly for women -- and how they are designed to fall apart. Seams are looser, less durable than anything you would have seen on a rack 40 years ago. Made to fail asap.

    There's a book about that: "Overdressed."

    -- http://www.overdressedthebook.com/

    You end up owning hundreds of cheap/half-wearable "fashion" knock-offs. Nothing durable and attractive. (Constructed worse than doll clothes from 40 years ago.)

    The 1% of the 1% want palaces and slaves. Always have, always will. You really think that class give a damn about whether you and yours get burned in a factory fire ???

  •  Something I've long wondered (0+ / 0-)

    Why hasn't the government sued Wal Mart as being too large and dominant in its market, just as it did A&P, Standard Oil, AT&T and (I suspect) others? Have the laws that were used to prosecute those companies been changed to weaken the government's hand?

  •  This is just unbelievable. (0+ / 0-)

    The NERVE. The fact that they're insisting on lying through their teeth about "advocating for improved fire safety" when there is damning evidence about them outright refusing improvements for employee safety concerning fire hazards is just utterly disgusting. Have they no empathy whatsoever? Instead of trying to act like you've got nothing to do with it (despite knowing that there were five Walmart suppliers involved, not just one), why not admit that you made a huge mistake in the chase for profits and ignored employee safety? It's the very least they could do, they owe that much to the families of the victims.

    Capitalism at work, folks. Not that I'm against capitalism when it's got sensible regulations, but this is one of the many examples where free markets can be WAY too "free" to the point that being at least partly responsible for the death of more than one hundred people isn't even considered a crime. And to think Republicans' life goal seems to be to make it even worse. Ugh.

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