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Walmart: 'We Are So Proud to Host the President'

8:18 AM, May 9, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Labor groups might not be happy about President Obama's planned trip to a California Walmart today. But the big corporation is ecstatic. 

"You've probably seen in the news President Obama will be visiting our store in Mountain View, California tomorrow morning. We believe this is the first time a sitting President has visited one of our stores, and we are so proud to host the President and hear his vision for a clean energy future," Walmart communications vice president David Tovar said in an email yesterday evening to reporters. 

"While tomorrow may be the first time the President has called on our stores, this is not the first time a member of his family has paid us a visit. We were honored to host the First Lady in Feb. 2013 to talk about her Let's Move campaign, and discuss how we are providing affordable access to healthy foods. Mrs. Obama has also been a great partner through the Joining Forces initiative for hiring veterans, and we are deeply committed to strengthening the opportunities for veterans through our hiring commitment."

As the Associated Press reports, big labor's unhappy:

The White House chose Wal-Mart because the company has committed to doubling the number of solar energy projects at its stores, Sam's Clubs and distribution centers.

But in choosing the giant retailer as the backdrop for his announcement, Obama triggered a backlash from labor unions and pay equity advocates who say Wal-Mart pays low wages and who archly noted that Obama has made pay equity a central issue of his presidency.

"What numbskull in the White House arranged this?" former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who served in the Bill Clinton administration, said in a posting on Facebook on Thursday.

"While he's in California, I would hope President Obama would speak directly to Wal-Mart employees and hear from them about their daily struggles to pay the rent and put food on the table," said Maria Elena Durazo, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

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