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08/22/2006

Often damned when they don't, Wal-Mart now damned because they did

by Jeremy Hooper

   Jeremy Bishop, program director of the AFL-CIO's gay and lesbian constituency group Pride At Work, is criticizing the news that the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has entered into a partnership with Wal-Mart. Of the deal, Bishop told LGBT news source PageOneQ:

"[The NGLCC's] mission statement says it is committed 'to forming a broad-based coalition of LGBT owned and friendly businesses.' We're not exactly sure how Wal-Mart fits into the LGBT friendly business category," ... "In fact, we're not sure how Wal-Mart fits into anything worker friendly."

Bishop later added that he'd instead...

"Encourage the NGLCC to demand that Wal-Mart create 'friendly' practices, of say, paying their employees above poverty line wages, offering affordable health care, and when that is done, they could think about offering domestic partner benefits and dealing with the massive class action lawsuit facing them regarding gender discrimination"

Valid concerns? Sure. Is Wal-Mart's partnering with the NGLCC a step in the right direction or merely smart marketing? Remains to be seen. But if childhood trips to the retail giant taught this writer anything, it's that their generic Clearly Canadian tasted nowhere near the real thing it's sometimes best to not bitch about the situation at hand, as when you sit tight and don't act up, you may be rewarded in the end. Whether it be the pair of quarters your mother gives you so that you can play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game while she pays for her panty hose and paperback Danielle Steele novel, or be it a long-criticized company turning towards progressive policies -- pleasant surprises do exist. We admittedly viewed yesterday's announcement with a bit of skepticism and surprise; but while an optimistic view may leave us with egg on our face in the end, we've chosen to curb our cynicism for now, in hopes that decency is truly the impetus for Wal-Mart's seemingly tolerant turn.

AFL-CIO gay labor group slams gay business organization for Wal-Mart deal [PageOneQ]

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