Major retailers like Target and Walmart may be able to keep the connection between their products and a war-torn African country under wraps.
Thanks to their lobbying efforts, big retailers will likely be exempt from a rule, finalized by the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday, which requires public companies to disclose whether their products contain “conflict minerals” from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Wall Street Journal reports.
An earlier version of the proposal, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, would have mandated that retailers selling products under their own brand name abide by the rule, according to the WSJ, but the final version allows a loophole for companies that don’t directly manufacture their products. Goods ranging from smartphones to light bulbs may be made with conflict minerals.
Despite the exemption, retail industry officials said they were still wary of the law, noting that they “are still assessing what will actually be required.”
“It’s very important that a distinction be made between a retailer who is acting as a manufacturer and has control over what is in a product and the vast majority who do not,” Jonathan Gold, National Retail Federation vice president for supply chain and customs policy wrote in a statement. “While retailers abhor the violence in the Congo, compliance with these regulations could still be extremely difficult and there is considerable debate on whether filing reports with the SEC will make any difference.”
But the fact that retailers were able to win the exemption is another indication of the industry’s powerful lobby. Thanks in part to pushes by retail advocacy organizations, the Federal Reserve halved the maximum fee that retailers have to pay to banks on debit card transactions last year, according to The New York Times. Still, the new rule wasn’t good enough for retailers who filed a lawsuit to try to lower the fee even more, the Hill reports.
Retailers like Walmart are also currently engaged in a lobbying push to make it easier to expand into India. Individual companies and industry groups have spent millions of dollars since the beginning of the year lobbying to increase foreign direct investment in India and to make changes to Indian tax laws, according to the Economic Times.
Walmart Calls Police On School Chorus
A Walmart in Florida complained to police of a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/walmart-school-choir-911-flash-mob_n_1882146.html?1347571795" target="_hplink">"flash mob situation" after a school choir sang "God Bless America"</a> in memorial of the Septemeber 11th, 2001 attacks, the <em>Sun-Sentinel</em> reports.
Couple Arrested For Sexual Activity In Walmart
Julian R. Call, 22, and Tina F. Gianakon, 35, were arrested for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/walmart-sex-arrest-couple_n_1728834.html?utm_hp_ref=walmart" target="_hplink">engaging in sexual activity</a> in front of fellow shoppers at a Kansas Walmart after stealing K-Y Jelly.
Pension Fund Boycotted Walmart For Poor Labor Practices
Netherlands' biggest pension fund -- it holds over $300 billion in assets -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/walmart-blacklist-abp-pension-fund_n_1186384.html" target="_hplink">pulled its investments from Walmart for not abiding</a> with the United Nations' Global Compact principles, which relate to human rights, labor standards, the environment and anti-corruption efforts.
Walmart Involved In Mexico Bribery Campaign
When Walmart senior executives found out that Walmart de Mexico <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/21/wal-mart-mexico-bribes_n_1442951.html" target="_hplink">had allegedly been involved in a bribery campaign </a>to open new stores, they then allegedly covered it up.
Walmart Threatened To Fire Mormon Worker For Observing Sabbath
A Mormon assistant manager at Walmart, who had been <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/walmart-threatened-to-fire-mormon-worker-observing-sabbath_n_1572088.html" target="_hplink">observing the Sabbath as an employee</a> for more than ten years, faced disciplinary action after a change in their scheduling rules no longer accommodated his observance.
Man Died After Brawl With Walmart Security
Jose Marcos Picazo <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/man-dies-after-fight-with_n_1570121.html" target="_hplink">suspiciously died after Walmart security </a>guards in California arrested him for alleged shoplifting.
Walmart Lobbied To Change Anti-Bribery Laws
Walmart was involved in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/wal-mart-bribery-scandal-lobbying_n_1450873.html" target="_hplink">a lobbying campaign to weaken</a> the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which was meant to reduce liability for bribing foreign officials.
Walmart Involved In Many Sex Discrimination Suits
Walmart has been involved in a number of ongoing lawsuits for discrimination against<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/24/walmart-sex-discrimination-supreme-court_n_1227352.html" target="_hplink"> female employees. Some of the allegations </a>have included derogatory language at the workplace, unfair promotion practices and pay discrimination.
Walmart Customer Injured Others To Win Black Friday Deals
A woman wanted <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/25/walmart-pepper-spray-black-friday_n_1112548.html" target="_hplink">cheap Black Friday deals on Walmart </a>electronics so badly that she used pepper spray on a crowd at a Los Angeles Walmart. Twenty people were injured.
Walmart Contractor Sued For Labor Law Violations
Warehouse workers in California sued a contractor that works with Walmart for labor law violations, including poor labor conditions, shortchanging pay and threatening <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/18/walmart-warehouse-workers-lawsuit_n_1018143.html" target="_hplink"> to fire them for complaining about anything.</a>
Walmart Exposed For Political Lobbying To Weaken Labor, Whistleblower And Environmental Laws
New York City public advocate Bill de Blasio recently launched 6degreesofwalmart.com to expose Walmart secret <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/walmart-bill-de-blasio_n_1477814.html" target="_hplink">political spending</a>, meant to influence the political process in a number of ways, including reducing protection for workers, whistleblowers and the environment.
Walmart Employee Shot Supervisor, Killed Himself
A Walmart employee at a distribution center in Virginia shot and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/walmart-shooting-virginia-distribution-center_n_1294267.html" target="_hplink">wounded his female supervisor</a> right before he killed himself.
Also on HuffPost: