MAY 30, 2006 - Posted at 8:09 a.m. CST
BENTONVILLE, AR - Wal-Mart is to hold its annual shareholders meeting on Friday. The company uses the occasion to pack store managers and stockholders into Walton Arena in Fayetteville for an hours-long cheer session.
But in recent years, Bentonville-based Wal-Mart has used the meeting also as a forum for answering its critics. Union-backed groups have attacked Wal-Mart for not offering its workers higher pay and more benefits. The company is also the target of numerous lawsuits and has seen its former number two executive, Tom Coughlin, plead guilty to federal charges related to his alleged misspending while at the company.
The company brings in managers from its stores around the world for training during the week of the meeting. Wal-Mart also closely guards its meeting agenda, which usually features celebrity appearances.