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Edwards Acknowledges Wal-Mart Query

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that a staff member for former Sen. John Edwards, a vocal critic of the retailer, asked his local Wal-Mart store for help in getting the potential 2008 presidential candidate a Sony PlayStation 3. Edwards said a volunteer did so by mistake, according to the Associated Press.

Edwards told The Associated Press that the volunteer “feels terrible” about seeking the game unit at Wal-Mart a day after his boss criticized the company, saying it doesn’t treat its employees fairly.

“My wife, Elizabeth, wanted to get a Playstation3 for my young children. She mentioned it in front of one of my staff people,” Edwards said. “That staff person mentioned it in front of a volunteer who said he would make an effort to get one. He was making an effort to go get one for himself.

“Elizabeth and I knew nothing about this. He feels terrible about this. He made a mistake, and he knows he should not have used my name,” Edwards said.

Edwards said the volunteer was “a young kid” unaware of what he called flawed Wal-Mart policies. He called the Wal-Mart statement an effort to divert attention from its own problems.

Edwards, the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate in 2004, spoke Wednesday to supporters of union-backed WakeUpWalMart.com on a conference call launching the group’s holiday season campaign to pressure Wal-Mart for better labor standards.

The retailer’s news release accused Edwards of not wanting to wait his turn for the product. “While the rest of America’s working families are waiting patiently in line, Senator Edwards wants to cut to the front,” the Wal-Mart statement said.

The PlayStation 3 console is set to go on sale Friday.

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FINANCE

American Eagle Profit Up 40%

BY CSA STAFF

Warrendale, Pa., American Eagle Outfitters said Tuesday that third-quarter profits rose 40% to $100.9 million from $73.3 million a year ago. Comp-store sales increased 13%, while sales for the three months ended Oct. 28, rose to $696.3 million from $580.5 million.

During the third quarter, American Eagle opened 19 new AE stores and remodeled nine units. The chain is on track to complete 46 new AE store openings and 65 renovations this year.

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Obama, Edwards Court Wal-Mart Critics

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C., Sen. Barack Obama and another potential Democratic 2008 presidential contender, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, will speak to activists from one of Wal-Mart’s most vociferous union-backed critics Wednesday as debate over the retailer becomes increasingly political, according to the Associated Press. WakeUpWalMart.com said Obama and Edwards will address the group’s supporters on two national conference calls that will launch a six-week campaign targeting Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Wal-Mart urged Obama and Edwards to get to know the company and its employees before making up their minds about the retailer. “We’ve found that most of the politicians who are most critical of Wal-Mart are the ones that know us the least,” Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said.

Obama’s office said the Illinois senator “is participating in this call because he believes all workers in America, no matter who they work for, deserve to be paid a living wage and have access to comprehensive health care their families can afford.”

The battle between Wal-Mart and its critics has taken on an increasingly political tone since WakeUpWalMart and another union-backed group, Wal-Mart Watch, were formed last year to pressure the retailer for changes, including higher wages and better benefits.

WakeUpWalMart enlisted several potential Democratic presidential candidates other than Obama and Edwards for a series of rallies in Iowa this summer. Wal-Mart replied with a letter to its 18,000 Iowa workers warning them that the politicians were wrongly attacking their company. In August, Wal-Mart hired former Democratic operative Leslie Dach as its head of communications and government relations.

WakeUpWalMart said Obama and Edwards “will be speaking out and calling on Wal-Mart to put families first and become an employer that reflects the best of American values” during two conference calls Wednesday for the group’s activists.

The call will inform the group’s membership, which it puts at more than 285,000, about plans for rallies and other holiday events aimed at putting public pressure on Wal-Mart to change business practices that the critics say are antifamily, such as work scheduling changes and pay caps introduced this year.

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