Are There No Warehouse Stores?
The Bush Labor Department charged WalMart with violating child labor laws for using children under 18 to operate dangerous machinery in its stores. On 85 occasions.
Bush Labor then cut a deal with WalMart -- to give WalMart 15 days notice before inspecting stores for further violations.
The Labor Department's inspector general strongly criticized department officials yesterday for "serious breakdowns" in procedures involving an agreement promising Wal-Mart Stores 15 days' notice before labor investigators would inspect its stores for child labor violations.
The report by the inspector general faulted department officials for making "significant concessions" to Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, without obtaining anything in return. The report also criticized department officials for letting Wal-Mart lawyers write substantial parts of the settlement and for leaving the department's own legal division out of the settlement process.
The report said that in granting Wal-Mart the 15-day notice, the Wage and Hour Division violated its own handbook. It added that agreeing to let Wal-Mart jointly develop news releases about the settlement with the department violated Labor Department policies.
Wal-Mart settled the investigation by agreeing to pay $135,540, but it continued to deny any wrongdoing.
In addition to allowing the 15-day notice, the agreement lets Wal-Mart avoid civil citations and fines if it brings a store into compliance within 10 days of when the department notifies it of a violation.
Department officials say that giving 15 days' notice helps to ensure that Wal-Mart will come into compliance.
Call it the Leave No Child Unexploited Act.