New Film Critical Of Wal-Mart Released

The film is called Wal-Mart, the high cost of low price and makes allegations that the discount giant cheats its employees and drives competitors out of business.

It's being shown in small screenings this week in Tyler and Longview. It's a product of filmmaker Robert Greenwald. It'll be shown in a reported 7,000 locations across America -- in homes, small theaters, and at union halls.

"i think it's very important that we let people know what Wal-Mart has done to our economy. They don't pay their workers near enough money," says Sue Daniels of the Smith County Central Labor Council, which is showing the film.

"They should pay a decent living wage so the people who are employed by Wal-Mart are not a drain on the rest of the economy," she says.

An internal Wal-Mart memo said nearly half of the children of employees are either on Medicaid or are uninsured. Another memo leaked to the press had a Wal-Mart vice president saying more store jobs should require physical labor to discourge less healthy people from applying.  That, theoretically, would drive down insurance claims.

However, at one of the 5,000-plus stores, folks are smiling.

"We've never had anything like this in our town before, and we are excited to have something this large come to our town," says Lindale's Mayor Bobby McClenny.  Wal-Mart opened a Supercenter there just last month.

"We've made infrastructure available, and we've made things happen for some really good things to happen in Lindale and they're beginning to happen. [The Supercenter] is one of them," he says.

Wal-Mart's critics point to store openings as the end to small business. But Johnnie Davis works in downtown Lindale and says she never saw a problem in her hometown of Mineola when Wal-Mart arrived. She doesn't expect a drain here.

"I don't believe it [caused a problem in Mineola] at all. In fact, I think it helped us draw in a lot of people from small towns," Davis says.

Wal-Mart continues to say it supports local economies with massive tax payments, but folks like Sue Daniel say this film exposes a company she says exploits.

"It's a company that shouldn't be in the United States as far as I'm concerned, under the circumstances," Daniel says.

A statement from Wal-Mart says filmmaker Robert Greenwald traded "smears... and sour grapes" for evidence and corroboration.

On Tuesday, another documentary was been released online called "Why Wal-Mart Works, and Why That Makes Some People Crazy."

There is plenty of information on both films and Wal-Mart's response at the top of this page.

Morgan Palmer, reporting.