Poll: Attacks on Wal-Mart 'Not Good Use' of Union Dues

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - A poll released Wednesday shows that voters strongly support Wal-Mart, widely disapprove of political candidates making the world's largest retailer an issue during this campaign season and feel that attacking the chain of stores "is not a good use" of union dues.

However, a group that has been critical of Wal-Mart accused the company of "writing its own poll" since the results differ dramatically from those of other surveys conducted over the past few months.

According to a poll commissioned by Working Families for Wal-Mart, a group that supports the retail giant, a majority of voters (51 percent) - as well as the same percentage of union households - said "the campaign against Wal-Mart is not a good use of the union dues members pay."

An even greater total (80 percent) of union households responded in the Oct. 5-8 poll, which interviewed 1,014 adults nationwide - including 837 registered voters - that "a campaign against Wal-Mart" should not be the top priority for union leaders.

Cybercast News Service previously reported that the world's largest retailer has been the target of constant criticism from such organizations as Wake Up Wal-Mart, which is financed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and Wal-Mart Watch, which receives funding from the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union and a number of other liberal organizations.

"It's clear this union leader attack campaign does far more to anger and annoy than it does to motivate," said pollster Thom Riehle. "Democrats and Republicans, even union households, overwhelmingly feel the attack campaign against Wal-Mart is misguided and a bad use of union dues."

The poll also asked respondents about "candidates who support those attacking Wal-Mart."

When asked "Do you approve or disapprove of political candidates making Wal-Mart an issue in the upcoming elections," 68 percent disapproved, with 37 percent strongly disapproving. Only 21 percent approved.

"Union leaders and the politicians who join the attacks against Wal-Mart are out of touch with how voters feel about America's largest private employer and retailer," said Riehle. "The vast majority of them shop at Wal-Mart and think the retailer is a great place for their family to shop and save."

"Democrats hoping to enjoy the kind of broad-based support needed to make significant electoral gains on Nov. 7th and beyond should be extremely cautious of the backlash they would likely face from Democratic base voters and Independents alike," the report states.

"Positive feelings about Wal-Mart are deeply held," the survey notes. "Overall, 67 percent of all adults said they thought Wal-Mart is a 'good place' for them 'and their family to shop.' That number increases among non-whites to 74 percent and to 68 percent" among those 65 years of age and older.

"Wal-Mart appeals across the aisle, as 72 percent of Democrats (and 79 percent of Republicans) share the aisles when they shop at Wal-Mart every month," the survey notes. "These are obviously numbers any politician would love."

"Among union households, 64 percent said Wal-Mart was 'a good place' to shop," the report adds. "Even among those who have heard of the attacks on Wal-Mart, the feeling that Wal-Mart is a 'good place' to shop remains strong, with 67 percent of respondents holding that belief."

Catherine Smith, interim chairman of the Working Families for Wal-Mart national steering committee, noted: "It is not an accident that the special interests have failed to make Wal-Mart a political issue in 2006 because candidates in competitive races know something the union leaders don't -- Americans believe Wal-Mart is good for working families."

On the other hand, "the campaign against Wal-Mart is clearly failing to resonate beyond their narrow, activist base," the survey states. "The number of Americans who are even aware of the campaign has dropped to about half its previous level -- 44 percent were aware of the campaign in April, but only 23 percent are aware of it today."

However, Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com, accused the retail chain of "writing its own poll."

Blank told Cybercast News Service that RT Strategies, the company that conducted the survey, is "a paid polling firm that has been used by Wal-Mart in the past." Because of that connection, he charged that the pollsters "worded the questions in a slanted way and skewed the results."

To back his claim, Blank pointed to surveys conducted in September by the Wall Street Journal/NBC and the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg News, both of which found the company to have negatives at three times the rate as the poll released Wednesday.

"It is clear that these independent polls prove that the American people do see this as a serious social and political issue," Blank said.

"To be frank, as this campaign extends into next year, the issue of Wal-Mart will become even more salient as presidential candidates on both political sides debate the negative national effects of the Wal-Mart business model and the responsibilities of corporations to be good and better corporate citizens," Blank argued.

"Wal-Mart can try and spin the facts and write its own polls any way they want, but they can't rewrite history," he added. "The bottom line is that the American people have come to the conclusion that Wal-Mart is a company that doesn't treat its employees well and needs to change."

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