business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • Suited Up. The Sacramento Bee reports that the California Supreme Court has, by refusing to review a lower court decision, cleared the way for a trial in which Wal-Mart is charged in a class-action suit with forcing employees to work without rest and meal breaks.

    The Supreme Court said that a lower court decision that the case could be certified as a class action – possibly including as many as 230,000 current and former employees – should stand.

    Trial has been set for September in Oakland, Calif.

    The case is one of about 20 such wage-and-hour cases are pending against Wal-Mart in courts across the nation.

  • Wal-Mart 101. Business Week reports on a recently completed conference at the University of California Santa Barbara focusing on "Wal-Mart: Template for 21st Century Capitalism?" that drew 300 people who largely focused on how to deal with perceived Wal-Mart “sins” such as “low wages and lackluster benefits to stress-filled jobs and anti-union managers.”

    The session, according to Business Week, “drew historians, sociologists, and other academics from around the country. Community activists, environmentalists, union workers, and others eagerly absorbed the discussions as they pondered the kinds of coalitions that might stop or transform Wal-Mart in the future.”

    The major conclusion: that if Wal-Mart thinks things have been rough recently, it should, to paraphrase Bette Davis, fasten its seat belt…it’s going to get bumpy.

  • To Russia With Love. The Moscow Times reports that Wal-Mart sent a “scout patrol to sniff around Moscow earlier this month,” in search of retailing opportunities that it might be able to exploit there.

    While Wal-Mart apparently isn’t commenting on the report, the real estate community in Moscow reportedly is buzzing with excitement over the possibility of a Wal-Mart presence there. It isn’t just because it would immediately become the biggest business in town, but also because it would put a stamp of approval on the notion of investing in Russia – which would encourage other American companies.

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