Walmart's use of extensive bribery
to build its business in Mexico—to the point where one in five Walmart stores is in that country—wasn't just some anomaly in the way the massive retailer does business, a major New York Times
investigation shows clearly. Rather, Walmart's top executives decided to shut down an internal investigation, and the executive who the Times
' David Barstow describes as "the driving force behind years of bribery" was promoted.
Unions and workers' groups in the United States are pushing for Walmart to face consequences for the bribery in Mexico; bribing foreign government officials is a crime in the U.S. under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka writes that the Mexican bribery and cover-up "shows the utter futility of expecting large corporations, their boards and their law firms to police themselves" and that "this episode reveals the tragic folly of NAFTA [...] NAFTA has been a race to the bottom in every respect—including rule of law," and asks, "Walmart has gotten away with violating our labor laws en masse for decades. Will they be able to similarly ignore our criminal laws and get away with it?"
Similarly, Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union that represents workers at many businesses endangered by Walmart's business model and that has sought to organize Walmart workers, said in a statement:
"A Department of Justice investigation into foreign bribery is an urgently needed first step. Congress should immediately convene hearings to examine whether Walmart is using these unethical business practices in their U.S. operations."
As long as Walmart operates in the legal environment it's been operating in—employing contractors to carry out the worst of its labor abuses, using and abusing American labor laws that already favor businesses over workers, and engaging in widespread bribery in Mexico and who knows where else—not only will Walmart's workers continue to be underpaid and mistreated, but Walmart will keep driving the race to the bottom among its competitors and suppliers. Workers will never have a chance to organize at a Walmart that can not only fire them for trying to organize, but can build massive profit centers around the world through bribery and law-breaking. If Walmart doesn't have to obey the law, there is no chance to put the brakes on its race to the bottom; we have to start to apply the brakes by imposing some consequences to law-breaking.
Sign our petition calling on Walmart to remove the responsible executives and pursue a real investigation into its pattern of bribery in Mexico.