Changing of Wal-Mart Guard

Ideas and Issues Labor Organizing

Changing of Wal-Mart Guard
November 21, 2008
            New Orleans               News hit the ticker that Lee Scott, the CEO and Chair of Wal-Mart will soon be just the Chairman of the Wal-Mart Executive Committee and will be replaced by Mike Duke as president and CEO.  This may be another part of the public relations and repositioning strategy that Wal-Mart has practiced with disarming results in recent years.
            Though the company will put a smiley face on this transition, Scott may also be one of the first casualties of the new Obama presidency.  The recent ham-handed attempts at trying to position something called a “Wal-Mart voter” and try to both ram McCain down the throat of Wal-Mart supervisors, and claim polling results at total odds with the rest of the country and the eventual balloting, may have left no other conclusion that that Scott needed to be kicked farther upstairs before Obama was president, and would turn a deaf ear on Wal-Mart’s lobbying for help on health care and other programs.  This election was about change, and Wal-Mart understood that was a change that they needed to make PDQ!
            For our campaign in India this is less good news.   ACORN International’s India FDI Watch Campaign has done a number of actions directed at Duke as president of Wal-Mart’s international operations.  This move signaled an announcement that Wal-Mart was going to be positioning itself for even more aggressive expansion in foreign countries.  They have not been happy with the scraps they have been able to get from the table in India, so with Duke as the new CEO, they will no doubt be a stronger force in trying to push their way into the country after the elections in India in May 2009, once they feel the coast may be clearer.
            Announcements in the Huffington Post in recent days that our partner, Wal-Mart Watch, was being reconstituted with staff and resources assignments in other directions around different campaign priorities was also curious news.  Talking to Wal-Mart Watch there was no indication that they were willing to give the company a sudden “free pass,” but were simply grabbing the chance with SEIU as their prime sponsor to reposition.   Under any circumstances they have been a good partner to WARN and WWA and our work, and we are betting that continues in one way or another.