This week, the group Wal-Mart Watch is drawing attention to their campaign to challenge the nation’s largest company and retailer to change its ways of doing business. The group accuses the Arkansas-based Wal-Mart of short-changing its employees and for wreaking havoc on local communities. Wal-Mart Watch’s Higher Expectations Week coincides with Robert Grunwald’s new documentary, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices, which is being screened in cities across the country, including Charlottesville.
They’re also holding town meetings with local activists opposed to what they see as the cultural hegemony of Wal-Mart. In Charlottesville, around forty people showed up to listen to local political figures talk about the company. City Councilwoman Kendra Hamilton moderates, with comments from Former Charlottesville City Councilwoman Meredith Richards, Outgoing Delegate Mitch Van Yahres, and Joe Szakos of the Virginia Organizing Project.
00:00 – 02:00 – Introduction from moderator Kendra Hamilton
02:00 – 07:26 – Meredith Richards on the history of Wal-Mart
07:26 – 15:47 – Outgoing Delegate Mitch Van Yahres on workers’ rights in Virginia.
15:47 – 24:10 – Joe Szakos on Wal-Mart’s affect on Virginia communities
24:10 – 33:22 – Question 1 – Is Wal-Mart Watch a campaign to unionize Wal-Mart? Richards answers.
33:22 – 39:43 – Question 2 – If it doesn’t make capitalistic sense for Wal-Mart to offer health benefits, why should they?
39:43 – 46:38 – Question 3 – What role do local governments play in approving new stores and distribution centers?
46:38 – 54:32 – Question 4- If Wal-Mart is such a bad employer, why do 1.2 million Americans workers there?
54:32 – 1:03:55 Question 5 – What about the millions of Americans who rely on Wal-Mart for affordable goods and groceries?
1:03:55 – 1:12:37 Question 6 – Why are you supporting the Wal-Mart Watch campaign by appearing on this panel?