Walk into a Wal-Mart store, and you can see banners that proclaim, "Our Nation: Supporting the American manufacturers that support American jobs."
For customers, this is a heartwarming declaration by the country's largest retailer that it is, by God, a 100 percent, red-white-and-blue company, offering a store full of "Made in America" goods.
Only it's a lie.
Only it's a lie.
An investigative report recently released by the National Labor Committee exposed Wal-Mart's marketing hype. This corporate watchdog group sent investigators into Wal-Mart stores in 13 states to check the country of origin on private-label goods manufactured for Wal-Mart. Some 90,000 pieces of clothing and shoes were examined. Bottom line: 85 percent of them are NOT American made. Even worse, most come from factories in the world's garment ghettos, where subpoverty wages, dangerous working conditions and human exploitation are common.
Take the famous "Kathie Lee" line of women's clothing -- the most popular label sold by Wal-Mart. These goods bear the name of TV sparklie Kathie Lee Gifford, who made a widely publicized pledge to avoid sweatshop production just two years ago. Yet only 11 percent of her Wal-Mart garments have a "Made in the US" label in them today, while 89 percent come from such notorious sweatshop hellholes as China, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Her non-clothing items have a worse record: 100 percent of "Kathie Lee" sunglasses, handbags and belts come from China.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has been running a multimillion-dollar promotional campaign urging us consumers to "Bring it home to the USA" by shopping at its stores. Wouldn't it be nice if the giant retailer were to practice what it preaches by bringing its manufacturing home to the USA?
To get a summary of the Wal-Mart survey, call the National Labor Committee at (212) 242-3002.
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