walmart-nyc

Upset about the “Shirtwaist” style factory fire in Bangladesh that claimed 112 workers, mostly women who earned $37 per month?

Maybe you don’t like citizen exploitation, like a $3 billion annual taxpayer drain to provide foodstamps and healthcare to America’s lowest paid workers?

Does it bug you that a workforce of 1.4 million has not been permitted to negotiate for better conditions from the nation’s biggest employer?

On the occasion of a speech entitled “The Responsibility to Lead”, Walmart’s CEO Michael Duke is to be “welcomed” to Manhattan by 99pickets.org, a working group of Occupy Wall Street promising banners, musical instruments, chants and jeers.

The site is the Council on Foreign Relations, whose alumni includes everyone from Colin Powell to Henry Kissinger. The protest is scheduled from 4:30-6pm at the Harold Pratt House, 58 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10065, organized along with ALIGN and Occupy Bergen County (NJ).

Protesters also decry the treatment of workers along the global supply chain, but most Walmart shoppers don’t realize the Walmart CEO is likely trying to raise his profile to counter a toxic scandal brewing that could have him dead to rights on foreign corruption practices.

Duke and his predecessor Lee Scott both signed off on compliance paperwork attesting that any potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act were disclosed, a possible violation of Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. As reported, Walmart’s higher-ups had papered over $20 million in alleged Mexican payoffs (that’s in dollars, not pesos).

It wasn’t till the same internal whistleblower who had been suppressed for years dropped his evidence on the NY Times’ David Barstow that we heard of this, but coverage in the print and financial press (plus a stockholder exodus) have not crossed over into mainstream newsrooms.

Mr. Duke and the Bentonville bullies have gotten way, way, way in front of the DOJ and SEC on the scandal, hiring $100 million in lawyers and accountants to do God knows what before the feds see the books. On the part of Obama, Eric Holder and the recently departed SEC head Mary Schapiro, there has been no subpoenas or document seizures announced, even as requests made by progressives in the House have gone stonewalled by Walmart and their stalwart BFF Darrell Issa.

Congress members Henry Waxman and Elijah Cummings also cite major conflicts of interest in Walmart’s lobbying to dilute FCPA laws…oh, plus tax evasion and money laundering. But worse in this has been the network media, drunk on Walmart advertising revenue, protecting Walmart’s PR through the holidays.

With this information, it’s fair to ask whether the protesters should leave the Walmart CEO be and instead march on the Department of Justice for letting this evidence slide, even after the scandal has widened to include China, Brazil and India. Damning reporting by Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times and others suggests action is immediately necessary, but there’s nothing coming from our duly elected representatives so perhaps instead we’ll see people in the streets again.