SELLING WOMEN SHORT: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart

Liza Featherstone, Author . Basic $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-465-02315-8

Fortune magazine's "Most Admired Company" for two years running, Wal-Mart offers its customers low prices and its shareholders big profits, but as freelance journalist Featherstone (Students Against Sweatshops ) argues, this comes at great cost. Wal-Mart's success is based not only on its inexpensive merchandise or its popularity (Featherstone cites working-class shoppers and Paris Hilton among Wal-Mart's fans) but on bad labor practices. Using a close investigation of the class action suit Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, In c. and extensive interviews with female workers, Featherstone indicts Wal-Mart for low wages, discriminatory policies and sexist practices. "[Our] district manager sometimes held lunch meetings at Hooters restaurants," one female employee explains; another recalls being asked to work "off the clock." Failure to post open positions, exclusively male social gatherings, pay discrimination, "persistent segregation of departments"—all are part, she argues, of Wal-Mart's deep-rooted culture of sexism. Many women employed full-time at Wal-Mart make so little that they are dependent on public assistance: "It is curious that Wal-Mart—the icon of American free enterprise and self-sufficiency...—turns out to be one of the biggest 'welfare queens' of our time," Featherstone writes. She doesn't give much time to related topics—racism, exploited overseas labor—but this is a clearly written and compelling book. It may not keep readers from their local Supercenters, but it should make them take a closer look at who's working the register. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 290 pages - 978-0-465-02316-5
Ebook - 305 pages - 978-0-7867-3816-8
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