"The opposition is beginning to reach a critical mass, in number of groups and their ability to work together," said Jim Jordan, a Democratic consultant who served as John Kerry's first presidential campaign manager. Mr. Jordan helped launch the D.C.-based Center for Community and Corporate Ethics, which is serving as an organizing hub for groups critical of Wal-Mart.
Paul Blank, a former national political director on the Howard Dean campaign now organizing against Wal-Mart, has adopted campaign strategies of the candidate lauded for savvy Net-working that transformed political marketing. Mr. Blank's message, communicated by blog and Web site WakeUpWalmart.com: "If Americans join together, they can change the largest corporation in the country." Mr. Blank also made his case in person, flying to Bentonville, Ark., during Wal-Mart's press conference with reporters to portray its warm and fuzzy side. At the Cedar Creek Bistro lounge at the same hotel, he erected a tiny UFCW (United Food & Commercial Workers) sign and tried to frame a different story.
Then there's the battle of the books. Basic Books' "Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Worker's Rights at Wal-Mart," by Liza Featherstone, in October 2004, required a second printing, according to Holly Bemiss, senior publicist. "The United States of Wal-Mart" hits the shelves this June, and author John Dicker plans to hold a reading and press conference in Bentonville during the company's annual shareholders meeting that month.
The movement has gotten attention. Earlier this month, a debate titled "What's Good for Wal-Mart is Good for America," sponsored at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, drew a packed crowd of more than 800 in Manhattan.