Mike Rowe, who hosts "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel, recently caught criticism for narrating a Walmart ad entitled “I Am a Factory" during the Olympics.
CBS News reports that Rowe says in the Walmart commercial (video below), “We will build things and build families and build dreams."
The ad plugs Walmart’s sudden patriotic commitment of “$250 billion to work to help create new manufacturing jobs in America.”
Walmart is famous for importing cheaply-made goods created by near-slave labor in countries such as China and Bangladesh, so why would it suddenly sell American goods?
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Reuters reported in 2013, "In many cases, Walmart's suppliers had already decided to produce in the United States, as rising wages in China and other emerging economies, along with increased labor productivity and flexibility back home, eroded the allure of offshore production."
Rowe attacked his critics earlier this week on his Facebook page where he wrote: "Walmart’s $250 billion investment in US manufacturing is worth talking about” and “I’m happy to ‘shill’ for any company that gets this country back to work.”
But Rowe doesn't mention how Walmart helped put Americans out of work in mid-size and smaller towns where local businesses were destroyed by the retail giant, noted Forbes in 2013.
Jobs With Justice, a labor-backed nonprofit, has urged its members to send Rowe an email to meet with Walmart workers.
In response, 5,048 people sent a Rowe an email, which he said “had the same effect as a flood of telemarketing calls during my dinner, or a bag of dog crap set ablaze on my front porch."
Rowe also claimed that Jobs With Justice was “trying to wring out a modest increase for people who feel unappreciated by their employer and unhappy in their work,” while he [Rowe] was was “trying to get those same people excited about possibilities and opportunities that go beyond their current positions.”
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Of course, getting "people excited" to move beyond their "current positions" has never been opposed by Jobs With Justice.
The issue is how Walmart, which Rowe supports, treats its workers today in the real world.
Rowe did not mention that Walmart is notorious for paying for low wages, not paying overtime as required by law, making employees work off the clock, lying to workers about the dangers of joining a union, discriminating against women and fixing timecards.
On Thursday, Jobs With Justice issued an open letter to Rowe on its website:
...It’s hard for us to trust Walmart’s promise to invest in U.S. manufacturing when they’ve made a pledge to change before and the results have been questionable at best. Instead of following through on that pledge, the Alliance for American Manufacturing reports that Walmart actually upped its overseas purchasing and increased pressure on its suppliers to reduce costs, even if that meant outsourcing at our economy’s expense.
...Change at Walmart doesn’t start with an ad campaign, it starts with the actual workers who are a core part of Walmart’s success and yet are subject to low wages, erratic scheduling, dwindling benefits and retaliation when they try to raise these issues with their bosses.