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Published: December, 2005; Vol 2, Num 7
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Documentary Exposes Wal-Mart’s Rip-Off

By Steve Clark

Wal-Mart’s image took another strong blow last month as the film documentary, Wal*Mart—the High Cost of Low Price, was released for more than 7000 private screenings nationwide.

The 98-minute movie by Director Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films uses the personal stories of small towns, local businesses and former Wal-Mart managers to explain what really happens when Wal-Mart moves in:

  • A bunch of low-wage, part-time jobs are created that do not pay enough for employees to purchase Wal-Mart’s own health insurance.
  • Employees are directed to sign up for Medicaid and given the contact information for the local Salvation Army and other charities.
  • Long-established local businesses are forced to close.
  • Downtowns become ghost towns.
  • Environmental problems develop and serious crime multiplies.

The story is well-told and compelling, though the cinematography might have carried more punch. Even if you love Wal-Mart’s low prices, this movie will make you stop and think. It says, sure, the prices are low, but that’s because the company dumps so much of its costs – particularly health care costs – onto employees, competitors, communities and local and state government. Is this the kind of business that the country needs?

“Wal-Mart is rampaging through the economy,” says a Middlefield, Ohio, resident who worked at the local hardware store before Wal-Mart came to town and forced its closing, “and no one is doing anything about it.”

Well, it’s too late for H&H Hardware in Middlefield and a slew of other small businesses across the nation, but more and more people are getting together, now, to do something about Wal-Mart. Greenwald points out that lawsuits in 31 states are pursuing the company for nonpayment of overtime wages, and he highlights the stories of scores of communities that are now fighting to keep Wal-Mart out of their town.

Wal-Mart is under fire, and this documentary will prove itself a powerful weapon in the attack.

Upcoming screenings of the movie are listed by state and city at www.walmartmovie.com. Also, copies can be purchased for $12.95 through the website.