As accusations grow that Wal-Mart is threatening striking workers across the country with harsh retaliatory actions, the company is firing back, accusing shoppers of illegally retaliating against the company for its low wages and unfair labor practices.
"Those shoppers who've stayed home this Black Friday need to be held accountable," said Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke. "They're supposed to be in our stores, buying ridiculously cheap items, and we're going to go after anyone not holding up their end of the bargain."
Local managers at stores where fewer shoppers have showed up today are being instructed to pursue legal action. "We've got all the data in our computers," said Josh Tarkan, manager of the Rockville, Maryland Wal-Mart. "If you don't show up for shopping today, we're going to make sure the authorities show up at your door with $1.99 plastic Christmas wreaths and an ultimatum."
When asked why fewer shoppers were showing up today, Duke responded, "I don't know. Maybe there's this false impression that we don't treat our workers fairly or pay them enough. But you want a dish towel set with dancing Santas on it for $2.29 or not?"
Internally, though, Wal-Mart executives are blaming Robert Reich, a well-known economist and former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, who recently wrote "Why You Shouldn't Shop at Wal-Mart on Friday."
Reich, who blasted Wal-Mart for its anti-union practices, greed and abysmal pay, wrote:
A half century ago America’s largest private-sector employer was General Motors, whose full-time workers earned an average hourly wage of around $50, in today’s dollars, including health and pension benefits.However, instead of going after Reich and others who have targeted the billion-dollar corporation (including Occupy Wall Street), Wal-Mart is going after shoppers.
Today, America’s largest employer is Walmart, whose average employee earns $8.81 an hour. A third of Walmart’s employees work less than 28 hours per week and don’t qualify for benefits
"People want to make us the bad guy? Fine," said Duke from his winter home in Aspen. "But we're not going to let absentee shoppers get away with their illegal, retaliatory actions. They want to go after us? Well, we're going to go after them."
Trish Legaway, manager of Sacramento's Wal-Mart, had a stark warning for consumers:
"You don't show up and buy something? We'll be forced to offer workers health care, full-time employment and raise prices by one percent. Think about that."Follow @David_EHG