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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.