Entries in Wal-Mart (24)


Black Friday: Retailers, Shoppers Preparing for Big Day

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Retailers are preparing for a stampede of shoppers on Black Friday, some of whom have already begun camping outside of stores, eager to get the best deals first.

Nearly one in four Americans, 86 million total, hit the stores on Black Friday last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

At one retailer, ABC News witnessed a mock Black Friday scenario, where a steady line of people banged their shopping carts through the door.

There’s good reason for the training. Some shoppers in Wisconsin are already camped out, ready to be the first people through the door when the Black Friday sales begin.

“Our time is almost getting paid back just by the savings,” one shopper said.

But not everyone is cheerful about the big day. Employees of some big box stores are unhappy their stores are opening on a Thursday for shopping, causing them to miss spending Thanksgiving with their families.

“We’re just demanding respect,” said Rosetta Brown, a Wal-Mart employee.

Target announced on Monday that it is opening some stores on Thanksgiving at 9 p.m. for its Black Friday sale, which in the past began the day after Thanksgiving.

Walmart will be opening its doors at 8 p.m. Sears will also open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, moved up from 4 a.m. on Black Friday last year. Kmart will be open Thanksgiving Day 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., then it will close and reopen 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Macy’s, Kohl’s and Best Buy open at midnight.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wal-Mart Workers Threaten to Walk Off the Job on Black Friday

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The latest news in the Wal-Mart labor protests, which have included walkouts and marches in Dallas, San Diego, Chicago and Los Angeles, is the threat of a strike on Black Friday. That's the day after Thanksgiving, widely considered the busiest and most lucrative retail day of the year.

Some 200 angry protesters showed up at a meeting of investors and analysts Wednesday at Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. Under discussion at the meeting was Wal-Mart's intent to go head-to-head with Amazon and offer same-day delivery.

Wal-Mart is the world's largest private employer and has long been a target of workers' rights groups, which advocate higher wages, more flexibility in hours and an end to the punishments like reduced shifts they claim are meted out to workers seeking to unionize.

Evelin Cruz, a department manager at Wal-Mart in Pico Rivera, Calif., told ABC News that for many years she kept quiet about what she views as the company's unjust labor practices because she feared she would be fired if she spoke up.

"People were really tired that any time they would speak out against the pay, hours, how much they would work, that management would cut their hours or not give them a schedule," said Cruz, who is one of thousands of members of Our Wal-Mart, a labor organization backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers that defends Wal-Mart workers' rights.

Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman disputes the organization’s claims, saying that most employees have "repeatedly rejected unionization.

"They seem to recognize that Walmart has some of the best jobs in the retail industry — good pay, affordable benefits and the chance for advancement," he said in a telephone interview with ABC News.

Wal-Mart and its practices have made the news a lot lately. In mid-September, warehouse workers in Southern California were on a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs. Around the same time, hundreds of people marched in Dallas and San Diego, demanding better work conditions.

On Monday, Chicago police dressed in riot gear arrested 17 peaceful protesters blocking the entrance to a warehouse operated by an outside contractor that supplies Wal-Mart stores, in Elwood, Ill. The protesters were there to show support for workers who had been on strike since Sept. 15, the Chicago Sun Times reported. What's more, the company faces yet another sex discrimination lawsuit, filed on behalf of 100,000 women in California and Tennessee.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wal-Mart Workers Protest Working Conditions

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Dozens of Wal-Mart workers in 12 cities plan to walk off the job to protest the store's working conditions, and some are headed to Bentonville, Ark., where the company will hold its shareholder meeting Wednesday.

The workers want to be able to unionize, which they say is the only way they will have their demands met.

A Wal-Mart spokesperson says that all 4,000 stores in the U.S. are staffed, open and seeing no impact.

Walmart has 1.4 million employees in the United States.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wal-Mart to Hire More Than 50,000 Seasonal Workers

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Wal-Mart is getting into the spirit of the season by hiring thousands of temporary workers for the holidays. The big-box retailer says it will offer more hours to current employees, and bring in more than 50,000 new workers nation-wide to better serve its customers.

Wal-Mart currently employs about 1.4 million people throughout its more than 4,000 chains across the U.S.

Both Kohl’s and Target, two of the company’s largest competitors, also announced thousands of new seasonal hires in preparation for the impending holiday rush.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wal-Mart Critics Pounce on Bribery Scandal

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Wal-Mart's critics say they are not surprised by charges that the giant retailer paid bribes in Mexico to get its way.  Some hope the Mexico scandal, which could wind up costing Wal-Mart billions in fines, will cause investigators to re-examine situations in the U.S. where payments or donations by Wal-Mart or its confederates preceded the company's getting permission to expand.

The New York Times reported that Wal-Mart's internal documents show that the company's Mexican subsidiary paid at least $24 million in bribes to Mexican officials to get permits needed for the company's rapid expansion there.  The Times also claims Wal-Mart squelched its own internal investigation of the bribes.

Wal-Mart is the biggest private employer in Mexico.  In size, its operations there are second only to its operations in the U.S.  One out of every five Wal-Mart stores worldwide is in Mexico.

The company's stock has fallen nearly 5 percent since the scandal broke.  The Department of Justice has reportedly launched a probe into the allegations.

What Bernard Sosnick, a stock analyst at Gilford Securities, calls the company's "new imbroglio" only confirms what many labor leaders and long-time critics say they have suspected all along: that Wal-Mart's rapacity knows no ethical restraint.  Wal-Mart's many critics are lining up to pile on to the company's woes.

"Am I surprised?  Of course not," says Al Norman, author of The Case Against Wal-Mart and of the forthcoming Occupy Wal-Mart.  He has been dubbed "the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement."

"The only thing that surprises me," he says, "is that here you get to see their fingerprints.  Usually, when money changes hands, you can't find the moment when it happened."

The company, he contends, has a long history of paying money to remove obstacles to its expansion.  He has compiled examples of what he deems as Wal-Mart-related briberies on his website,  The claims include situations where citizens testifying at public hearings have accepted cash in exchange for making pro-Wal-Mart statements.  In other cases, he claims, groups protesting Wal-Mart expansion have ceased to protest after accepting donations from the company or its partners.

Joseph Hansen, international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), says only two things surprise him about the Mexican revelations: First, the scope of the alleged bribery.  Second, "I thought they were smarter than that."

Hansen says that when he first learned of the allegations, "They raised question in my mind about stores approved in the U.S., where zoning laws changed quickly and permits were issued quickly. I  think we'll now see people go back and ask questions about that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wal-Mart de Mexico Engaged in Widespread Bribery, NYTimes Reports

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A senior Wal-Mart lawyer claims the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico, engaged in widespread bribery totaling over $24 million, The New York Times reported.

Wal-Mart de Mexico reportedly used bribes to obtain permits all over the country to build stores quickly and dominate the market. When Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., was informed of the suspicions of bribery, an investigation was launched which unearthed that there was “reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexican and USA laws have been violated,” wrote the top investigator in a confidential report, according to The Times.

But Wal-Mart shut down the investigation, did not inform law enforcement in Mexico or the United States, and did not discipline any of the employees involved in the scandal, according to The Times.

Wal-Mart said today though that it has been investigating the situation since last fall.

“In the fall of last year, the Company, through the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors, began an extensive investigation related to compliance with the [U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)],” said David Tovar, Wal-Mart’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, in a statement.

The Times claims Wal-Mart informed the U.S. Justice Department that it had begun to investigate possible violations of the FCPA only after the company learned of The Times’ reporting in Mexico.

Tovar said that because the investigation is ongoing, the company cannot respond to the allegations in detail.

“We are working hard to understand what occurred in Bentonville more than six years ago and are committed to conducting a complete investigation before forming conclusions. We don’t want to speculate or weave stories from incomplete inquiries and limited recollections, as others might do.”

The FCPA prohibits US companies from bribing officials in other nations to get business.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Interstate Boys’ Admit to Million-Dollar Walmart, T-Mobile Scam

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two men from New York City admitted Friday to ripping off Walmart and T-Mobile in a multi-state scam that federal prosecutors said cost the companies nearly $1 million.

Prosecutors said Ralbert Olacio, 23, and Edwin Rodriguez, 22, of Brooklyn, N.Y., called themselves the Interstate Boys. Court records reveal the pair traveled Interstate 95 from Maine to Florida using stolen identities to open more than 400 T-Mobile accounts along the way.

“After establishing the fraudulent accounts, the defendants traveled to over 350 different Walmart stores located from Maine to Florida on approximately 600 occasions to complete activation of the accounts and to purchase approximately 2,000 discounted cellular handsets for resale,” according to information released Friday by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

The pair pleaded guilty in federal court to making calls they did not pay for and selling the devices at a profit.

Late last month, a third man, 23-year-old Alfredo Rodriguez, also of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to one count of wire- fraud conspiracy in connection with the scam.

The defendants face up to 20 years in prison when they are sentenced this spring.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Customers Turning to Wal-Mart to Cash Checks

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Dissatisfied customers are dumping their bank accounts and increasingly using Wal-Mart to cash paychecks, according to the New York Times. Wal-Mart offers a $3 flat fee, which often works out to be less than the cost of going to other check–cashing stores that keep a percentage of the check.

At Wal-Mart, customers can cash work and government checks, wire money overseas, pay bills or load money to a prepaid debit card. Wal-Mart did not go through with plans to obtain a federal bank charter four years go, amid opposition from the banking industry.

They feared that the huge retailer would drive smaller banks out of business, and it turns out their concerns were justified. Wal-Mart has become very attractive to the so-called “unbanked.” Wal-Mart has also attracted cash-poor customers who have never had a bank account, and would also find their services significantly more affordable.

Wal-Mart says it has no intention of reviving plans to become a full-blown bank, although it has obtained bank charters in Mexico and Canada, leading some bankers to question their motives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Walmart Cuts Employee Health Care Benefits

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) -- Walmart is increasing employee health insurance premiums and no longer offering the coverage for new part-timers because of rising costs.

Walmart informed employees last week that it is eliminating health care for future part-time employees who work less than 24 hours a week, the New York Times reported.

The nation’s largest private employer with 1.4 million workers, most of whom are full-time, made the changes as part of its open-enrollment period for next year’s coverage. Walmart does not disclose the percentage of full-time employees.

The company is continuing coverage for current part-timers, who previously didn’t have a minimum number of hours they had to work but were eligible after one year of employment.

“The current health care system is unsustainable for everyone. At Walmart we’ve made choices we have not wanted to make, like many employers in the country,” Greg Rossiter, Walmart spokesman, told ABC News.

The most popular plan for employees for “quality coverage” will cost $15 per pay period, every other week, an increase of $4 per pay period from last year, Rossiter said.

The company said the health care changes are not related to federal health care legislation.

While coverage for full-time employees has and will continue to include options for spouses, Rossiter said spouses of part-time workers are not covered, continuing with its current policies.

Walmart has provided coverage for part-time employees since 1996, according to Rossiter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Forbes' Lists the Richest People in America

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Forbes has released its annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, worth an estimated combined $1.53 trillion.

Their total combined wealth is up 12 percent from last year. Perhaps more notable is that 70 percent of the individuals on the list are self-starters, which marks an increase of 55 percent since 1997.

In addition, a group of younger entrepreneurs are also making their way up the list. Topping the ranks of younger entrepreneurs is Facebook’s 27-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, coming in at 14th place, with $10.6 billion, ahead of Google rivals Sergey Brin and Larry Page with $1.7 billion, tied at 15th.

Dustin Moskovitz, Zuckerberg’s former roommate, is the youngest billionaire to make the list.

Here’s a look of the top ten wealthiest Americans:

1.    Bill Gates, $59 billion
2.    Warren Buffett, $39 billion
3.    Larry Ellison, $33 billion
4.    Charles Koch, $25 billion
5.    David Koch, $25 billion
6.    Christy Walton, $24.5 billion
7.    Jim C. Walton $21.1 billion
8.    Alice Walton $20.9 billion
9.    George Soros $22 billion
10.  Sheldon Adelson, $21.5 billion

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio