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Walmart's big "we're going to hire 100,000 veterans" announcement drew the big headlines, but that wasn't the only public relations ploy the retail giant launched Tuesday. Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon also claimed:
[...] that part-time employees would receive more information about full-time job openings and have the first shot at those jobs, and added: “We will also bring more transparency to our scheduling system so part-time workers can choose more hours for themselves.”
OUR Walmart member Venanzi Luna responded in a statement, calling it "a win" that Simon had addressed the issue of part-time scheduling at all, but noting that "we need these words to translate into real action, and we will continue to speak out to make sure that Walmart is addressing this problem, not just making a publicity statement."

Simon's announcement that Walmart would buy more American-made products similarly drew questions:

Wal-Mart's U.S. unit says about two-thirds of the goods it buys for its stores are made, sourced from or grown in the United States, citing data from its suppliers. It did not give a dollar amount for how much it pays for those goods, or what percentage the increased domestic sourcing would bring.

The company has previously run "Made in America" campaigns, and in the early 1990s it was criticized for promoting foreign goods as domestically made.

Last year, 55 percent of Walmart U.S. sales came from groceries like food and drinks as well as other products that are typically sourced locally. Only 7 percent of Walmart U.S. sales were of apparel, jewelry and accessories, which retailers typically get from lower-cost countries.

Even coverage of the plan to hire veterans cited Walmart's low wages and high proportion of part-time jobs more than the company likely hoped, and those weren't the only questions. The Atlantic's Jordan Weissman pointed out that:
The company claims to have an annual turnover rate of around 37 percent. With 1.4 million U.S. employees, that means it needs to hire more than 500,000 people every year at its stores (which, if you stop and try to process it, is kind of nuts). In that context, 100,000 veterans over five years really isn't that big a number.
Additionally, every veteran it hires makes Walmart eligible for tax credits potentially worth thousands of dollars per hire.

Basically, anything "nice" Walmart claims to be doing falls apart when you look at it. And while the company can still get headline writers and a few reporters to fall for its PR stunts, increasingly, people are learning to take a second look when Walmart claims it's just a big cuddly teddy bear.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 09:16 AM PST.

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

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