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March 29, 2005

Twenty-One Members of Congress Release Letter Calling on ABC to End Wal-Mart

Washington, DC — Twenty-one Members of Congress released a joint letter today calling on ABC News to drop Wal-Mart as a sponsor of Good Morning America’s “Only in America” series. The letter to David Westin, President of ABC News, states that in the “name of honesty and accuracy in the media, we ask that ABC News remove Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.” as a sponsor.

“Wal-Mart values are not American values. Crummy healthcare, an assault on small businesses, and poor wages is not what we value in America,” said Representative Anthony Weiner, who signed the letter.

The letter highlights Wal-Mart’s consistent attempts to use misleading advertising and slogans to confuse consumers and the American public about their real record. In fact, Wal-Mart’s attempt to wrap itself in the American flag is both hypocritical and misleading. For example, “”80 percent of the six thousand factories in Wal-Mart’s worldwide database of suppliers are in China.”” Amazingly, if Wal-Mart were a country it would be China’s seventh-largest export market, ahead of Germany and Great Britain. According to Ted Fishman, author of China, Inc.,  “”Wal-Mart’s growth as an economic force is inseparable from China’s rise as a manufacturing giant … no company has been a bigger catalyst in pushing American…manufactures to China.””

“It is a sad day when ABC News would allow itself to be used by Wal-Mart to sell a corporate image based on lies and myths,” said Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. “One only has to look at the real Wal-Mart record to realize the severe damage this company has done to American families and communities.”

Joe Hansen, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, was delighted to see so many Members of Congress join in this growing movement to pressure ABC News to drop Wal-Mart as a sponsor.
“I join with other Americans who think it is time for Wal-Mart to stop relying on slogans and start doing what is right for our families and America,” said Hansen.

The joint Congressional letter is the latest step in a growing grassroots movement. Already, over 13,000 concerned citizens have signed the UFCW petition that asks David Westin, President of ABC News, to drop Wal-Mart as a sponsor. The petition can be found at www.ufcw.org.

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March 28, 2005

Food and Commercial Workers Welcome Yucaipa

Washington DC—The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is extremely pleased by the announcement that Los Angeles based Yucaipa Companies will invest $150 million in Carteret, N.J., Pathmark Stores which has 142 stores in the New York and Philadelphia metro areas.

“This is great news for 30,000 Pathmark employees represented by the UFCW,” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen. “Yucaipa has a track record of operating successful industry-leading businesses that benefit employees, shareholders and communities. The UFCW members had positive working experiences with Yucaipa when the company ran supermarkets across the country, including Ralph’s, Food4Less, Fred Meyer, Smith Food and Drug, and Dominick’s. If you asked UFCW members, today, who worked in Yucaipa-operated stores, I’m confident they would say the company was very fair as well as a good place to work.”

Pathmark, once a growing, successful, and highly respected in the supermarket industry, experienced a harmful leveraged buyout in the 1980s. Since then, the company has been saddled with extensive debt, which resulted in burdens on UFCW members employed at Pathmark Stores and on communities where the stores operate.

“The agreement with Yucaipa will allow Pathmark to undergo capital structure improvements that will provide an enhanced shopping experience for the shoppers in the company’s market areas and a more secure future for UFCW members working in the stores,” said Hansen.  “Once the investment is complete, I’m sure our affected local unions will want to meet with Yucaipa officials to offer their thoughts, including those of UFCW members working in the stores, about remaking Pathmark Stores into a profitable and productive operator with a positive working environment.”

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March 22, 2005

UFCW calls for ABC News to drop Wal-Mart ad

Washington, DC – The United Food and Commercial Worker’s Union sent a letter to ABC News today demanding that Wal-Mart be immediately removed as a sponsor of their “Only in America” series, citing misleading and deceptive advertising.  Wal-Mart appears to be the primary paid sponsor of Good Morning America’s “Only in America” series, which tells stories of common Americans and their love for the country and it’s citizens.

“Wal-Mart’s sponsorship of ‘Only in America’ is hypocritical, as well as a cynical abuse of ABC News,” stated UFCW President Joe Hansen in a letter to ABC News President David Westin.  “I call on you, Mr. Westin, to drop Wal-Mart immediately as a sponsor of this segment, and to take down the company’s internet ads which further attempt to connect Wal-Mart with the ‘Only in America’ slogan.”

The advertising campaign seems to be part of an “unusual” public relations offensive by Wal-Mart to counter growing concerns about the corporate ethics of the retail giant.  But, this is not the first time Wal-Mart has attempted to use patriotism as a marketing scheme.  In the 1990’s, Wal-Mart introduced its “Made in America” and “Bring it Home to the USA” campaigns.  Broadcast and other news outlets soon exposed the gross deceptions in this ploy forcing Wal-Mart to drop the marketing campaign.  In fact, just recently, a new book entitled China, Inc. found that 70% of the items sold by Wal-Mart are manufactured in third world countries, most notable China.

“The UFCW, and all of working America, is deeply troubled by Wal-Mart’s exploitation of ABC News,” stated Hansen.  “Wal-Mart’s use of its ‘Only in America’ sponsorship is simply another cynical attempt to deceive customers about Wal-Mart’s responsibility for sending more jobs overseas than any other American corporation and lowering U.S. wages.”

In addition to its letter to ABC News, the UFCW has launched an on-line petition for people to join the call to stop Wal-Mart’s sponsorship of this series.  The petition can be found at www.ufcw.org.

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March 18, 2005

Wal-Mart to Pay Record Federal Fine for Illegally Exploiting Employees

Statement by UFCW International President Joe Hansen
Regarding Wal-Mart Immigrants Settlement

Today’s record $11 million fine against Wal-Mart should be a wake-up call to a corporation that has systematically bent and broken the law to increase their corporate coffers at the expense of the most vulnerable employees.

While Wal-Mart may have settled this case with the federal government, the jury is still out as to whether they will change their exploitive behavior.

Following the child labor settlement just a few weeks ago, this record fine further illustrates that Wal-Mart’s corporate culture of greed and arrogance is completely out of step with basic American values.

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March 18, 2005

Wal-Mart Imposes KGB Style-Informant System on German Employees

According to workers at Wal-Mart stores in Germany, the giant retailer is attempting to impose a code of conduct on employees, complete with a secret informant hot line. Workers are under threat of job loss if they fail to report co-workers of suspected code violations.

It isn’t lost on the Germans and other Europeans that not so long ago communists in East Germany relied on informant machinery run by its infamous security force.

One of the provisions in the company’s code forbids intimate relationships among co-workers, and requires employees to inform on each if they suspect violations.

Ulrich Dalibor, head of German union ver.di’s retail trade sector, charged Wal-Mart with a serious violation of German law by issuing its ethics code before consulting the worker-management councils. Under German law, employee-management councils must agree on a wide range of workplace policies.

Charging Wal-Mart with employing a double standard, Dalibor said that while the company imposes a code of conduct on employees, it abstains from imposing any such standards on its own behavior.

Wal-Mart faces worldwide condemnation for choosing to close a Canadian store rather than agree to a fair and impartial settlement for wages and benefits with unionized workers. Wal-Mart has been cited by nine U.S. states for having an inordinate number of its employees receiving taxpayer provided medical assistance. The company, which has cheated workers out of pay, faces the largest sex-discrimination suit in U.S. history. Numerous other Wal-Mart actions that fail to meet responsible standards can be found at www.ufcw.org.

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March 17, 2005

Wal-Mart Has Highest Number of Employees on Welfare In Homestate

Washington DC—In Arkansas, the birthplace and headquarters of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the state’s Department of Human Services released damning figures yesterday stating that the retail giant leads the list of top 10 employers whose workers are receiving state welfare. Arkansas is the ninth state to release such figures recently, showing Wal-Mart consistently ranking at or near the top in total employees on state aid.

According to a statement by the United Food and Commercial Workers at www.ufcw.org, “Wal-Mart is in the midst of a multi-million dollar media effort in an attempt to hide serious employment practice problems. When the company continues to price health care coverage out of reach of approximately 700,000 employees nationwide, it’s bound to force workers onto state aid programs and force taxpayers to foot the bill for Wal-Mart’s irresponsible corporate behavior.”

The Arkansas study shows that nearly 4,000 of the companies 45,106 employees are on public assistance, with a vast majority of them receiving Medicaid for their children.  Food stamps and transitional employment make up the rest of the public assistance, costing the state $39.6 million per year.

“Wal-Mart—one of the richest companies in the world—has cheated workers out of pay, shifts health care costs to taxpayers, faces the largest sex discrimination suit in history, and puts illegal operations into motion whenever workers seek a voice on the job,” noted the UFCW statement. “It’s a company where fairness for employees and taxpayers in communities where Wal-Mart operates is hard to find. Every one, in one way or another, has to pick up the tab for Wal-Mart’s irresponsible conduct.””

While Wal-Mart claims to have similar health care coverage as other large retailers, a recent Harvard Business School study shows otherwise. The study, conducted in 2002, shows that Wal-Mart spent an average of $3,500 a year on health care for each employee, compared with $4,800 for the average retailer and $5,600 for the average U.S. company.  In Tennessee these numbers are even worse, with 9,617 of Wal-Mart’s 3,700 employees, or 26%, on state aid according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

This nation-wide trend is putting pressure on state health care systems.  To contrast the problem of employers like Wal-Mart shifting the cost of health care on to taxpayers, twenty-six state legislatures are currently considering bills to require states to disclose which employers are abusing state public health care programs.

Wal-Mart is in the midst of a multi-million dollar media effort in an attempt to hid serious employment practice problems.  When the company continues to price health care coverage out of reach of approximately 700,000 employees nationwide, it’s bound to force workers onto state aid programs and force taxpayers to foot the bill for Wal-Mart’s irresponsible corporate behavior.

Wal-Mart—one of the richest companies in the world—has cheated workers out of pay, shifts health care costs to taxpayers, faces the largest sex discrimination suit in history, and puts illegal operations into motion whenever workers seek a voice on the job.  It’s a company where fairness for employees and taxpayers in communities where Wal-Mart operates is hard to find.  Every one, in one way or another, has to pick up the tab for Wal-Mart’s irresponsible conduct.

March 14, 2005

UFCW Receives Leukemia Society Award

United Food and Commercial Workers Union International President Joseph T. Hansen accepted the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the UFCW’s 1.4 million members.  The UFCW has raised more than $28 million for the Society’s blood cancer research in the last 23 years.

“I’m proud UFCW members take an active role in the fight against leukemia and other blood-related diseases,” said Hansen.  “And I’m proud we are helping make a difference in the Society’s great efforts to find a cure.”

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health organization devoted to researching blood cancers and improving the lives of those affected by the diseases. The Society’s mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and relies on donations to fund research initiatives, patient services and education programs.

“I’m honored that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has recognized UFCW’s contributions,” said Hansen.  “But the greatest reward comes from supporting such a worthy and important cause.”

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March 10, 2005

Food and Commercial Workers Leader Tapped for Citizens

Joseph T. Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) was named to a 14-member Citizens’ Health Care Working Group.  Hansen is the only representative from organized labor working with the esteemed group of health care providers, economists, health care advocates and other leaders.

The fourteen panelists, named by the Comptroller General of the United States David M. Walker, were assembled from more than 500 applicants and are charged with the duty of holding a national dialogue on issues relating to health care services, delivery and cost.

“I am deeply honored to serve in this vital endeavor to address the growing health care crisis and I look forward to working with my fellow panelists,” said Hansen.  “The nation’s health care tab is already the highest in the world, and I am committed to exploring solutions that will reduce costs while improving care for the greatest number of people.”

The working group was created by Congress and will hold hearings and community meetings across the country on health coverage and cost issues, and, ultimately, issue a “Health Report to the American People.”

As the leader of the 1.4 million-member UFCW, Hansen represents America’s neighborhood union.  UFCW members put food on the table for America’s families, working in neighborhood supermarkets, as well as in meatpacking, food processing and other industries.

With more than 40 years of experience negotiating contracts covering wages, health care benefits, pensions and other workplace benefits, Hansen is acutely aware of the nation’s health care crisis.   He understands how rising health care costs are forcing a downward pressure on workers’ living standards.  He also knows first-hand how skyrocketing costs are encouraging some employers to scale back and eliminate employee health care plans in order to gain competitive advantages in their industries.

“The health care crisis is a national problem that requires a national solution,” said Hansen.  “I have great confidence that our group can lay the foundation for bringing America together to confront this challenge.”

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