Wal-Mart Seeks Boosters Among Biz Partners

The Wal-Mart-launched and -funded advocacy group, Working Families for Wal-Mart, is recruiting "Wal-Mart suppliers to join the public relations offensive -- a move that some vendors say puts improper pressure on them," reports Michael Barbaro. While Working Families for Wal-Mart "describes itself as autonomous ... at least half of the steering committee's members have business ties to Wal-Mart" or the group itself. Examples are Andrew Young, whose consulting firm works for the group, and Terry Nelson, a former Bush campaign director whose firm consults for both the group and Wal-Mart. The recruiting effort "challenges Wal-Mart's longstanding policy of keeping suppliers at arm's length and shows how eager the company is to fend off a well-organized union-backed campaign critical of its wages and benefits," notes Barbaro. A Wal-Mart spokesperson said, "There is no tie between joining Working Families for Wal-Mart and a supplier's ability to do business" with the retail giant.