Last week it was Walmart CEO Mike Duke’s duty to find an explanation for continuing declines in same store sales, as the company hosted its 20th Annual Meeting for the Investment Community on Tuesday.
Despite the fact that the most recent quarterly report ended in July and brought a surprising (to analysts) .3 percent drop for the second quarter, when a one percent gain was expected, Duke cited the two-week old government shutdown and a “tough and unpredictable global economy” as reasons for the poor performance.
President Obama’s speech last week that re-emphasized his commitment to reduce US carbon dioxide emissions brought dismay to those who appreciate affordable energy, but it sparked a celebration among corporate types who have long sought caps and taxes on CO2.
While it was still more words from the president, which don’t always match his actions, on CO2 limitation he has largely kept his promise to environmentalists. Critics slammed his plan to bypass Congress and to task the Environmental Protection Agency to curb emissions via executive order, but EPA has operated out of bounds since he was inaugurated in 2009 – especially with the “war against coal” that is now universally accepted as true.
The top engineer of Walmart’s strategy to pursue left-wing priorities such as “sustainability” and backing Obamacare, as though those are what genuinely reflect “corporate responsibility,” is leaving.
Leslie Dach joined the Bentonville, Ark. retail behemoth seven years ago as vice president of corporate affairs. He previously worked for environmentally extreme groups and was “active as a senior strategist in Democrat politics,” according to his World Resources Institute bio. He worked in the Clinton administration, served as a senior adviser for Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and has been a top strategist for at least two Democratic conventions. He helped design the 2004 Boston convention and managed the Democrat response to the Republican convention that year, and is credited with managing the program at the convention in Los Angeles four years earlier.
Union activism at retail chain stores has come to blur the line between persuasion and harassment. But one retailer — Walmart — is pushing back, underscoring its failed campaign to appease left-wing activist groups. There is a certain irony here. Walmart for years has been capitulating to the demands of anti-business activists, a tendency documented in an NLPC Special Report published in 2006 titled, Wal-Mart Embraces Controversial Causes: Bid to Appease Liberal Interest Groups Will Likely Fail, Hurt Business. Yet last Friday the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer filed suit in Florida state court against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), and certain allied nonprofit groups and individuals.
When is a union not a union? Apparently, it's when members say it isn't. Yet a change in terminology can't alter reality. Over the past several years, hundreds of organizations, known as ‘worker centers,' have established a presence in the labor movement, targeting retail and restaurant chains for organizing and picketing. While they don't like being called unions, for all practical purposes they operate as such. And they have the advantage of being outside the jurisdiction of labor law. At least one is a reconstituted key affiliate of the defunct radical network, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
The move preceded Friday’s annual shareholder meeting, in which executives emphasized their commitment to principles of integrity. That came into question especially since April, when the New York Times revealed that company officials authorized millions of dollars in bribes in order to expedite building permits and other favors in Mexico.
The competition in corporate America to show who is “Greenest” or “most sustainable” has spun out of control, with the Alinskyite effect that drives corporations to spend vast amounts of time and money trying to address the whims and requests of every Leftist niche group that waves some kind of scorecard in their faces.
No matter how much Walmart officials pander to liberals and their institutions, or how much they implement alternative energy gimmicks, or how much they earn fawning media attention for “corporate responsibility” and “sustainability” gestures, a giant segment of the political Left will still resent the retail giant.
We told you so. Last week Walmart announced it will severely cut back health benefits for its employees, proving that the Obamacare law that the company endorsed will not save the day for its many low-income workers.
Under the new company policy, new part-time associates will no longer be eligible to receive health insurance. Reuters also reports that the amount Walmart puts in employee healthcare savings accounts will be cut in half.
Back in April some on the Internet tried (and failed) to argue that Walmart had abandoned political correctness – especially with regard to environmental causes – because the company had suffered seven (now eight) straight quarters of same store sales declines. NLPC showed that if anything, Walmart was more committed to “sustainability” than ever.
Those priorities, under CEO Mike Duke (in photo), may have reached absurd new heights last week as the world’s largest retailer announced a partnership with utility giant American Electric Power to give away electricity. That’s right – free electricity! But as you might imagine, there’s a catch.