Wal-Mart Is Red, But Not Scared

Wall Street Journal reports that Wal-Mart allows not only unions at its stores in China, but Communist Party cells, as well.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s biggest retailer, said employees have established a branch of the Communist Party at its headquarters in China.
The party branch was set up in the southern city of Shenzhen, where Wal-Mart runs its fast-expanding China business, Jonathan Dong, the company’s spokesman in China, said. The branch, which was inaugurated Friday, follows the establishment of similar party organizations in five Wal-Mart stores throughout the country since August, Mr. Dong said.
Wal-Mart’s acquiescence to the party cells — a decade after it opened its first store in China — reflects a stepped-up effort to ingratiate itself with a country that it sees as increasingly vital to its growth. The establishment of party branches follows a retreat for Wal-Mart in July, when the company — which has remained largely union-free elsewhere — acceded to pressure from China’s All-China Federation of Trade Unions to allow union branches in its stores. The government-sanctioned union has quickly spread to nearly all of Wal-Mart’s Chinese stores.

Of course, unions and Communist Party cells are the price of doing business in China. I simply find it noteworthy that a company so firmly wrapped in the Red, White and Blue would make such concessions. Perhaps, “wrapped” is the key word, for at its core, China has always been central to Wal-Mart’s success.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.