Walmart and Mercury Public Affairs have made public an agreement not to engage in illegal surveillance of workers. The announcement came one year after warehouse workers who move Walmart goods filed charges against the giant corporation and its PR firm for illegally spying on workers, and called on the retailer to drop Mercury Public Affairs as a contracted lobbying firm.
At the June 2012 press conference, warehouse worker Santos Castaneda was interviewed by a Mercury Public Affairs staffer posing as a student journalist. The next week, the same woman appeared at a press event in front of the proposed location for a Walmart in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. This time she used her real identity, Stephanie Harnett, and said she was representing Walmart. “Walmart has a lot of tricks up its sleeves,” Castaneda said. “I’m glad we caught them this time.”
In a settlement Walmart and Mercury Public Affairs agreed to destroy any recordings made at a press conference last year that was co-sponsored by Warehouse Workers United and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. The companies settled to avoid a trial after federal authorities investigated and authorized a complaint over a federal charge filed by Warehouse Workers United.