Saturday, May 05, 2007

Walmart & the Nuns

Oh yes, first let's see how this came to light.

Wal-Mart has won a temporary restraining order against a fired employee who spilled the beans about the company’s spying operations to the Wall Street Journal on April 4.

Bruce Gabbard told the Journal that he was part of a sophisticated company surveillance operation that spied not only on employees but on shareholders and critics. The outfit was called the Threat Research and Analysis Group.
According to Gabbard, Wal-Mart’s spies kept tabs on several groups, including the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). After the story broke, Wal-Mart said it regretted that shareholder groups had been monitored. But that’s not enough for the Interfaith Center. On April 9, it demanded a formal apology.

“We were surprised and disappointed to read the results of the Wall Street Journal investigative report,” four leaders of the group said in a statement. “We view such actions as a serious breach of the trust relationship between shareholders and their company. . . . We ask that Wal-Mart formally apologize to investors and to others whose expectations of privacy has been breached.”

Signing the letter was Sister Judy Byron of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, U.S.-Ontario Province; Sister Susan Mika, who represents the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas; Father Michael Hoolahan, the interim executive director of the ICCR; and Mark Regier, chair of the ICCR’s governing board.

The Wall Street Journal article said that Wal-Mart had done “some preliminary background work on the potential threat assessment” of the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas.

So Walmart has a corporate spying division that engages in surveillance and counter espionage on its critic, especially if they are that most devastating of enemies NUNS! But you know these are some admirable ladies, Sister Susan Mika is leading a campaign against evil in all its corporate forms

They say the spirit of St. Benedict's legacy of stewardship to the community and the earth drives them to file dozens of shareholder resolutions every year on a wide variety of issues, from workers' wages at Alcoa (AA) to genetically modified crops at DuPont (DD). Sister Susan has traveled several times to the U.S.-Mexican border to see the working conditions at American companies operating in special Mexican economic zones. This year as proxy season begins, Sister Susan and her order are going after Coca-Cola

Now they are asking Walmart why they have been labelled a security threat:

"In no way have we ever been a threat to the company in that sense. We might be a threat in the kind of question that we're asking, but not a security threat," Sister Mika said.

The sisters have raised questions on wages, human rights, health care and the pay disparity between CEOs and workers. They believe that's why Wal-Mart has launched a surveillance operation on the small church group.

"We wanted to find out more about what was actually happening, and did they do any surveillance on us, either personally or as a community, and to let us know what that would be, and to apologize to us," Sister Mika said.

It remains to be seen if the UK can stop ASDA from going to hell. The Nuns are watching you!