Wal-Mart

Sigh!  This one would be funny, if it weren’t so sad.
The FirstMention of Wal-Mart dates back to West v Wal-Mart, a legal case decided in  December 1966 in the US District Court in Arkansas.
The issue at hand?  Minimum wage.

West v. Wal-Mart, Inc.
Civil No. 575
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS

FAYETTEVILLE DIVISION
264 F. Supp. 158
February 16, 1967

Mrs. W. W. West et al., Plaintiffs, v. Wal-Mart, Inc. et al., DefendantsThis action was commenced with the filing of the complaint by Mrs. W. W. West and others, in which they seek relief against Wal-Mart, Inc., under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 201 et seq. It is alleged that the plaintiffs are members of a class of employees of Wal-Mart, Inc., who have been paid less than the minimum wage prescribed by the Act (29 U.S.C.A. § 206), and who are entitled to recover the unpaid wages along with the penalty and attorney’s fee in accordance with the provisions of 29 U.S.C.A. § 216.

The defendant Wal-Mart, Inc., filed its answer denying that it owed any unpaid wages, and alleged that its employees were not covered during the period in question because they were engaged in a retail service establishment meeting the requirements of 29 U.S.C.A. § 213, and were therefore exempt from the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The question of whether the parties are covered by the Act, as amended, was tried to the court on December 15, 1966

Seems that even way back in the day, the Walton’s were underpaying their employees, and arguing fervently that it was within their right to do so.  The court, though, emphatically disagreed.

it is the opinion of this court that the activities engaged in by the various Wal-Mart stores, or establishments, must be considered an “enterprise” for the purposes of the F.L.S.A. It is patently clear that Mr. Walton is the primary driving force behind each of the corporations and that each of the stores is but a division of the Wal-Mart operation which, under the law, is only one operation.

Therefore, an order is being entered today declaring that the three defendant corporations constituted one enterprise and were therefore not exempt from the minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The case also provides some details on Wal-Mart’s early history and origins.

The defendant corporations all operate, and did operate during the period in issue, various discount houses or stores in the northwest Arkansas area, all of which are known and referred to as “Wal-Mart.” Wal-Mart, Inc., operates a store in Rogers, Arkansas; Wal-Mart of Springdale, Inc., operates a store in Springdale, Arkansas, and Wal-Mart of Harrison, Inc., operates a store in Harrison, Arkansas.

The Rogers store was the first to come into existence, opening in early July, 1962. Prior to that time there were no other discount-type stores in northwest Arkansas. Mr. Sam M. Walton, a resident of Bentonville, Arkansas, had noted the success of this type of store in larger cities and felt that they could also be successful in smaller towns. He was at that time a 40-percent owner of a partnership known by the name of Walton’s 5 & 10 Cent Stores. The remaining interest in the partnership was owned by his wife in trust for their children.

And so it began….

Our FirstMention research on the origin of popular words, names and phrases is carried out in many sources, including historical newspaper archives, online family history records, state archives, and old books
If you’re interested in more information on the world’s biggest Big Box store, take a look at these links:

Wikipedia has an excellent overview article on Wal-Mart, along with a detailed history of Wal Mart.
Of course, there’s always Wal Mart’s own Facts page, with links to a number of Wal Mart Fact Sheets on sustainability, health care, employment, community relations, and so on.

And in the grand tradition of defining-away minimum wage, Wal Mart also recently tried (and failed) to define-away their tax liabilities.