April 9, 2008 -- From the tough anti-union talk to the wilder side of men in drag, videos of Wal-Mart corporate meetings are being sold to willing buyers, and the corporate behemoth is not happy about it.
The videos, thousands of them spanning three decades, are in the library of a production company in Lenexa, Kan. Flagler Productions Inc. was hired on a handshake deal by Wal-Mart in the 1970s to produce and film corporate sales meetings and other company events.
After receiving a verbal commitment that Flagler would be used for meetings in the future, Wal-Mart abruptly ended its deal with Flagler in 2006 causing the company to lay off most of their employees, according to Flagler. Representatives from Wal-Mart tried to buy the library in 2007, but Flagler and Wal-Mart could not agree on a price so the sale never happened.
Now, Flagler is offering the tapes to anyone else who might be interested, including the media and plaintiffs' attorneys.
Wal-Mart is currently defending itself in a lawsuit that claims widespread sex discrimination regarding issues of salary and promotional opportunities on behalf of at least 1.6 million female employees.
The attorney representing the female employees, Joe Sellers, says that some videos show the company acknowledged there was a lack of women in management back in the late 1980s.
"There's no question these videos capture in a fairly candid way the sentiment of top executives many years ago," Sellers said. "This is not new, and it is not something that top management was unaware of."
Indeed, in one video obtained by ABCNews.com, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton addresses the issue at a shareholders meeting in 1987. "We know we haven't gotten as far as we'd like to be advancing women in our company. But we're very conscious of it," he says. [Watch video.]
Wal-Mart released this statement to ABCNews.com today. "Needless to say, we did not pay Flagler Productions to tape internal meetings with this aftermarket in mind. It's definitely an unusual business model on their end, and we can't imagine too many other clients will be eager to pay for this service."
Wal-Mart has also stated previously that it is confident it did not discriminate against female employees.
Aside from the serious allegations of discrimination, the videos also show a glimpse of corporate shenanigans, including one meeting at which male employees dressed in ladies lingerie and sang a song, "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear" to the tune of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." [Watch video.]
Wal-Mart said the act was just for fun. "Over the years these internal meetings included a wide range of messages and activity -- some practical, some inspirational and some just plain silly. Clearly this video falls in the silly category, but having fun is just part of running a business," said a company spokesperson.
In January, ABCNews.com reported on videos dating back to when Hillary Clinton was on the board of directors at Wal-Mart. In her six years on the board, Clinton remained silent as the world's largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.
Wal-Mart's anti-union efforts were headed by one of Clinton's fellow board members, John Tate, a Wal-Mart executive vice president who also served on the board with Clinton for four of her six years.
Tate was fond of repeating, as he did at a managers' meeting in 2004 after his retirement, what he said was his favorite phrase, "Labor unions are nothing but bloodsucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living." [Watch video.]
Wal-Mart says Tate's comments "were his own and do not reflect Wal-Mart's views."
The Clinton campaign has since stated, "As president, she will fight alongside labor to promote the economic growth of America's middle class," and that Clinton strongly believes that Wal-Mart employees should be allowed to unionize.