Hillary Clinton and Wal-Mart: What About Debbie Shank?

There is no story in recent memory that better illustrates the tattered social contract between workers and corporations in this country than the story of Debbie Shank and Wal-Mart. Ms. Shank recently became a "Gold Star" mother when her 18-year-old son, Jeremy, was killed in Iraq.

Years ago while she was working for miserable wages as a shelf stocker at Wal-Mart, Ms. Shank was the innocent victim of a terrible automobile accident when a big rig slammed into her on a Missouri freeway. She suffered severe neurological damage that has permanently impaired her memory and motor skills and has made it impossible for her to function outside of the constant care of a nursing home.

Shank and her husband, Jim (who is recovering from prostate cancer and works two jobs), were awarded about $750,000 in a lawsuit against the trucking company. After the Shanks paid their legal fees, $417,000 was placed in a trust to pay for Debbie's long-term care. Wal-Mart sued the Shanks for $470,000 in medical expenses.

The behemoth corporation that made $11 billion in profits last year claimed the Shanks owed it the money because of a fine-print clause in her employee health benefits package that stipulates that Wal-Mart would recoup all medical costs if any court settlement had been reached. A Republican judge ruled in favor of Wal-Mart and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. The ruling will completely clean out (and then some) the trust that was set aside for Debbie Shank's long-term care. Wal-Mart issued a terse statement worthy of an Adolf Eichmann defending their actions saying the corporation was only following "very specific rules." In other words, the Shanks could fuck themselves.

Hillary Clinton was on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart for 6 years. Wal-Mart paid her $18,000 each year she was on the board and $1,500 for every meeting she attended. She accumulated at least $100,000 in Wal-Mart stock. This might be the reason she refuses to release her tax records even though Barack Obama has done so. Maybe it's time we demand that she give back this blood money? Moreover, when Hillary Clinton was with the Rose Law firm in Little Rock she defended Wal-Mart against workers who tried to organize unions making the firm, in the words of labor leader Jonathan Tasini, "one of the most active anti-union law firms in the country."

Clinton's shameless posturing about the Michigan and Florida Democratic delegations is just more of the same from this Wal-Mart-loving corporate shill. She pretends to be standing for "democratic" principles while she attempts a legal trick to strip the nomination from Obama. I saw Hillary Clinton tonight on Fox News talking up her Michigan-Florida demands with Greta Van Susteran. Howard Dean and the DNC Rules Committee should simply divide the delegates proportionately between the candidates based on the over-all delegate count nationally each candidate has won after all of the primaries are over. Michigan and Florida will have a seat at the table in Denver and Hillary Clinton will not be allowed to screw the base of the Democratic Party, which seems to be her specialty nowadays. Maybe she can talk to her lawyer friends over at Wal-Mart for help in this dispute.

Maybe Hillary Clinton should visit Debbie and Jim Shank in Missouri and tell them how sorry she is for what her lovely Arkansas corporate campaign donor has done to them. Maybe she can bring along a Fox News camera crew.