Big-Box Benefits: The Targeting of Giants in a National Campaign to Raise Work Conditions
29 Pages Posted: 7 May 2007
Wal-Mart matters to the form and substance of law and social reform in several distinct ways. This article describes Wal-Mart as serving three key purposes - as target, symbol, and model - in the contemporary social reform landscape. First, Wal-Mart, the largest employer in the United States is an effective target, serving as a deep, large pocket which impacts huge numbers of stakeholders. Second, Wal-Mart as a familiar, visible, and brazen corporation serves as a compelling symbol of the dilemmas about the costs and distribution of benefits of for-profit enterprises. And third, Wal-Mart serves as an experimental model for strategically exploring the efficacy of alternatives in legislation, litigation, and political struggles for social reform. Describing these three key purposes, the article demonstrates how recent confrontations between Wal-Mart and the environments within which it operates are shaping contemporary forms of political deliberation, legal strategies and social reform activism. In particular, the article links these three ways in which Wal-Mart has been shaping legal debates by examining developments in Wal-Mart anti-discrimination suits, including the Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores recently certified class action, ADA suits, and wage and hour claims against the superstore. The article further focuses on efforts by local governments and state legislature to target, and use big-box retailers as a symbol of record wealth gaps and a model for welfare reform, in the areas of health care provision and living wage ordinances.
Keywords: employment law, labor law, health law, benefits, local government, social policy, social movement, civil rights, legal strategies, wal-mart
JEL Classification: E24, I1, I3, H51, H7, J3, J4, J5, K31, J7, J70
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation