By  on August 11, 2005

BOSTON — Two teachers' unions joined with the United Food and Commercial Workers Wednesday in asking shoppers to refrain from buying school supplies this fall at Wal-Mart.

The group, WakeUp Wal-Mart, displayed "failing grade" report card placards criticizing the retailer's wages, benefits and compliance with child labor laws. The placards were displayed at more than 30 press conferences in major metropolitan areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago Philadelphia and here.

"Every day, Wal-Mart's so-called 'low prices' come with too high a cost for our families and our children," said Paul Blank, campaign director. "Starting today, Americans will have the opportunity to teach Wal-Mart a lesson that corporations have a responsibility to do the right thing."

The Bentonville, Ark., retailer defended its record, saying it donated $45 million last year toward education and teacher grants.

"The unions' latest publicity stunt won't affect our unshakable commitment to education, nor will it divert attention from their internal problems," Wal-Mart said in a statement. "The millions of parents and teachers who rely on Wal-Mart's low prices are able to see through this smear campaign."

It was the second time the five month-old WakeUp Wal-Mart campaign had called for a targeted boycott of the retailer. In May, the group accused the company of systematic gender discrimination and asked shoppers not to buy Mother's Day gifts there.

The embattled retailer is appealing the class-action status of the Betty Dukes gender discrimination lawsuit, a potentially precedent-setting case that could encompass 1.5 million current and former female employees.

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