Friday, November 18, 2005

Police: Wal-Mart site raided

This is from the CNN/Money website:

NEW YORK ( - A raid by federal, state and local authorities at a Wal-Mart Stores construction site in Pennsylvania netted about 125 arrests for alleged immigration violations.

Schuylkill County Capt. Dennis Kane confirmed the raid to CNN. USA Today reported that the workers were working on a million-square-foot distribution center in eastern Pennsylvania.

Suspected illegal immigrants found at the High Ridge Business Park were loaded on white buses and taken to a processing center. From WNEP Channel 16 News

Kane said immigrants who were arrested were taken to nearby Philadelphia. The county police worked in conjunction with Pennsylvania state police and federal immigration agents, he said.

High Ridge Business Park in Schuylkill County as seen from Skycam 16. From WNEP Channel 16 News

Wal-Mart officials told the newspaper those arrested were employees of a subcontractor and that the nation's largest retailer has contracts with subcontractors requiring that they follow all federal, state and local laws.

This is what happens when the world's biggest retail merchant pushes for the cheapest labor costs they can get. Wal-Mart starts to hire shady subcontractors, who use illegal immigrants to build their superstores, then feign innocence by claiming they didn't know the subcontractors were using illegals. It's not our fault. How many times have we seen this pattern happen before with Wal-Mart?

Continuing with Wall-Mart's side of the story:

"It is our understanding that the individuals taken into custody at the Pottsville distribution center construction site were employees of subcontractors and not Wal-Mart associates," Wal-Mart said in a statement emailed to

"Consistent with our corporate practice, we have written contracts with these subcontractors requiring that they follow all applicable local, state and federal employment laws. We will cooperate fully with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. attorney's office in this matter," the statement said.

Translation: We'll play the little illegal alien games with the government, pay whatever fines necessary (while declaring neither guilt nor innocence), and then continue with business as usual.

But this is not the first time that Wal-Mart has been tarnished by a raid that found illegal immigrants working for its contractors. Two years ago raids at 61 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states resulted in the arrests of about 250 illegal immigrants working on cleaning crews.

USA Today reported Friday that a federal agency affidavit unsealed this month says two Wal-Mart executives knew about the practice of hiring illegal immigrants by the cleaning contractor. Wal-Mart has denied that executives knew about the workers, the newspaper said.

A critic of Wal-Mart said that this latest raid will be another blow to the bad public relations the company has been suffering from lately.

"They're trying to improve their public image ... but they're undermining their own attempts," Paul Blank, campaign director of Washington, D.C.-based, told the paper. "There's clearly a pattern where they're violating the law."

Wal-Mart executives knew about the practice of hiring illegal immigrants by the cleaning contractor. How much do you want to bet these Wal-Mart executives knew tha the subcontractors building their superstores were also using illegal immigrants? This has been an ongoing pattern by Wal-Mart--pushing all costs down to the most extreme, stocking their shelves with cheap imported crap, and pushing extreme maximization of their stock for the shareholders. I don't mind businesses maximizing profit and their shareholder's value, but is there a point where profit maximization becomes too excessive? I've heard stories where Wal-Mart gives their employees state and federal insurance forms for health insurance, rather than providing their own insurance coverage to employees. I've heard Wal-Mart providing food stamp forms to their employees. I've even heard that Wal-Mart finds it cheaper to train new employees, rather than pay higher wages to their more experienced staff. Finally, there's a massive sex-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart, where Wal-Mart passed over female employees to choose less-qualified male employees for raises and job promotions. It is incredible.

And Wal-Mart is supposedly the darling company of Wall Street.

No comments: