Who is this woman? Last week she claimed to be “Zoe Mitchell,” a young student at USC interested in terrible and illegal conditions inside warehouses that move goods for Walmart.
Today she let her true identity slip. “Zoe Mitchell” is completely fictional. Zoe is actually Stephanie Harnett, a fake “reporter” working for Walmart.
Last week she told warehouse workers she was a “reporter” interested in their plight, but this week she revealed herself as a PR hack shilling for Walmart.
Send Walmart’s chief hack, Steve Restivo, an email and ask him why they sent a fake reporter instead of addressing the serious concerns of Southern Californians: email@example.com
So who is this Zoe…er, Stephanie? Steph (Can we call you that?) works for Mercury, a giant PR firm that represents a lot of corporate interests. Mercury says it is about “high stakes public strategy” and is especially adept at “Latino Communications.”
So come on Steph, lying about who you are, misrepresenting yourself to workers, community members and local leaders, is that going to get you the corner office?
But, the big question is why lie? For months warehouse workers have been asking to meet with Walmart. There have been many opportunities to sit down with workers: Last year the state issued more than $1 million in fines for labor violations at warehouses where workers move goods for Walmart, UCLA conducted a study about the risky working conditions inside the warehouse, Cal/OSHA issued more than 60 violations totaling more than $250,000 in Walmart-contracted warehouses and workers at a Walmart-contracted warehouse filed a class action lawsuit that documents awful working conditions including working 362 days a years with no break and no overtime.
Last week when Walmart had the chance to talk about real issues affecting Latino workers in Southern California it instead sent “Zoe,” a fake reporter. A spy.
Our door is open. Walmart can change this industry and create thousands of good jobs and improve the quality of life in Southern California, but first it has to come out of hiding.
Oh and you can reach Steph on Twitter: @stephharnett
UPDATE: @stephharnett has deleted her account, but you can follow warehouse workers @wwunited
UPDATE 2: Walmart’s Steve Restivo issues a statement to Gawker: “Our culture of integrity is a constant at Walmart.” But it looks like Stephanie may not have been the first spy. More coverage at The Guardian, Republic Report, LAist, DailyKos, Huffington Post, LA Times, City Watch, Curbed, Business Insider, Democratic Underground, CBS, and LA Weekly