business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that Wake Up Wal-Mart’s campaign director and chief spokesman, Paul Blank and Chris Kofinis, plan to leave the organization to sign on with the John Edwards presidential campaign. Wake Up Wal-Mart was founded two years ago by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) as a way of publicizing what it sees as the retailer’s social and ethical shortcomings, and the departure of the two men, according to the Post, raises “questions about the fate of a movement that has turned the behemoth retailer into a hot political and social issue.”

Both men came to the anti-Wal-Mart movement with political agendas and resumes – Blank worked for Howard Dean’s campaign and Kofinis worked for Wesley Clark in 2004. In moving to the Edwards campaign – which is said by many to be in trouble because of the perceived dominance shown by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) – the two men will be signing on with a candidate that has been vociferous in his criticism of Wal-Mart’s anti-union bias and policies.

Kofinis sought to put the likely departures into context last week, drafting an email that read, in part: "The fact is, the movement, the campaign to change Wal-Mart, was never about two people. It's about the 377,000 supporters who have worked passionately and endlessly to change Wal-Mart and America for the better. And so, rest assured, the campaign and the movement will move forward, it will become more aggressive, and it will reach even greater heights."
KC's View:
One thing certainly seems true – that the anti-Wal-Mart movement always has appeared to be as much about politics and power as about social concerns. Maybe more so.