Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who once served on the board of America’s leading retailer and piled up a six-figure cache of company stock, is still plugging hard for the Arkansas corporate giant.
From Jason Overdorf of GlobalPost:
If you’re wondering why US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped in Kolkata before meeting with the Indian prime minister in New Delhi later this week, here’s a heads up.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is essential to the survival of Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance government, was the main roadblock that stopped the Indian PM from implementing his decision to open up the so-called multibrand retail sector to foreign direct investment from companies like Walmart.
Doubtless, it was a wasted trip. Banerjee, known here as “Didi” (or big sister), is not known for succumbing to flattery or protocol when it comes to negotiations. It will take some serious money on the table to convince her to change her position. And her leftist, pro-farmer stance (ill-considered or not) makes her a dogged opponent of a reform that many here see as the thin end of the wedge for increased globalization of agriculture. (Proponents say that companies like Walmart would bring massive infrastructure investments, eliminating much of the waste in India’s agricultural sector, and also create more jobs in the formal economy, where workers receive the benefits of the minimum wage law and other legal protections).
A Clinton cash-and-clout cow
Wal-Mart’s a financial powerhouse, with more than two million workers and outlets metastasizing across the globe.
The corporation, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, was a steady source income for both Clinton and her law firm back in her Arkansas days as Brian Ross reported for ABC News during her presidential bid in 2008:
In six years as a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors, between 1986 and 1992, Hillary Clinton remained silent as the world’s largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.
Clinton has been endorsed for president by more than a dozen unions, according to her campaign Web site, which omits any reference to her role at Wal-Mart in its detailed biography of her.
Wal-Mart’s anti-union efforts were headed by one of Clinton’s fellow board members, John Tate, a Wal-Mart executive vice president who also served on the board with Clinton for four of her six years.
Tate was fond of repeating, as he did at a managers meeting in 2004 after his retirement, what he said was his favorite phrase, “Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living.”
Here’s a clip from Ross’s 2008 video report for Good Morning America:
More from Beth Fouhy of the Associated Press, written during the 2008 campaign:
Throughout the 1980s, both Bill and Hillary Clinton nurtured relationships with Walton, a conservative Republican and by far Arkansas’ most influential businessman.
Among other things, Hillary Clinton sought Walton’s help in 1983 for Bill Clinton’s so-called Blue Ribbon Commission on Education, a major effort to improve Arkansas’ troubled public schools. The overhaul became a centerpiece of Clinton’s governorship.
And Wal-Mart’s Made in America campaign, which for years touted the company’s sales of American products in its stores, was launched after Bill Clinton persuaded Walton to help save 200 jobs at an Arkansas shirt manufacturing plant. The Made in America campaign has virtually vanished in recent years, as the company’s manufacturing has gradually moved overseas — another point of criticism by many Wal-Mart critics.
The Clintons also benefited financially from Wal-Mart. Hillary Clinton was paid $18,000 each year she served on the board, plus $1,500 for each meeting she attended. By 1993 she had accumulated at least $100,000 in Wal-Mart stock, according to Bill Clinton’s federal financial disclosure forms that year.
A friend in need is a friend in deed
So now Clinton is pushing India to admit the giant retailer, a venture that will destroy countless local businesses, just as it has here in the United States.
With Clinton’s history and Wal-Mart’s union-busting record, why is she pimping for the company in India, given that most of the products the company peddles aren’t made by American workers?