Anti-Walmart Groups Start Playing Nice?

The New York Times says that the two most enthusiastic anti-Walmart groups, Wal-MartWatch and WakeUpWal-Mart are starting to take a more subtle approach when it comes to protesting the big blue box.

“It’s fair to say we have been less in-your-face,” said David Nassar, the executive director of Wal-Mart Watch, which had hammered the company in stinging newspaper advertisements and provocative reports with titles like “Shameless: How Wal-Mart Bullies Its Way Into Communities Across America.”

The mellowing of the anti-Wal-Mart movement is an unexpected development for the retailer, whose public image and share price were bruised by the well-financed union campaigns. On Friday, when the chain holds its shareholder meeting in Arkansas, investors are likely to applaud Wal-Mart for fending off these detractors.

“It definitely has helped the company,” a retail analyst at Deutsche Bank, Bill Dreher, said. “Those attacks hurt Wal-Mart.”

Apparently, the groups think they can catch more flies with honey — and have started to draw up proposals for heath plans and are offering other free advice to Walmart. The NYT says Andrew L. Stern, the head of the Service Employees International Union, which provides the majority of financing to Wal-Mart Watch, has been meeting with CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. to talk “heath care crisis” since 2006.

Weirder still, Walmart itself has been cooling down the counter attacks…

Over the last several months, the company has shut down a campaign-style war room set up in 2005 to do battle with Wal-Mart Watch and another group, WakeUpWalMart.com, which is financed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

And Wal-Mart has disbanded an advocacy group, called Working Families for Wal-Mart, intended to rally support for the company (and serve as a counterbalance to the anti-Wal-Mart groups). A company spokesman would not comment for this article.

Is this peace in our time?

Wal-Mart’s Detractors Come In From the Cold [NYT]
(Photo: yarnzombie )