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November 4, 2005

WAKEUPWALMART.COM LAUNCHES WAL-MART WORKERS OF AMERICA (WWOA), THE FIRST NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR WAL-MART WORKERS

50 UNINSURED WAL-MART WORKERS WILL QUALIFY
FOR $200 HEALTH CARE GRANTS

Washington, DC – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, officially launched the Wal-Mart Workers of America (WWOA) – the first national association for Wal-Mart workers.  WWOA is a new and exciting step to help empower Wal-Mart Workers to join together in order to improve their working conditions, their lives and change Wal-Mart into a more responsible and moral corporation. WWOA is launching a new website, www.WalMartWorkersofAmerica.com, which will offer a national clearing house of information and services for former and current Wal-Mart workers.

As part of the initial launch of the association, the WWOA will also offer 50 uninsured Wal-Mart workers the opportunity to qualify for $200 in health care money.  The health care assistance offered by the WWOA is the product of over $10,000 raised by more than 100 grassroots Halloween fundraisers held by WakeUpWalMart.com supporters last week in 84 cities and 22 states.

“Everyday 1.3 million workers help make Wal-Mart one of America’s most profitable companies, and yet, everyday it seems Wal-Mart finds new ways to exploit these hard-working Americans.  WWOA will be a powerful tool to help Wal-Mart’s workers join together to improve their lives and make Wal-Mart change for the better,” said Paul Blank, Campaign Director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

The WWOA is being founded in response to Wal-Mart’s secret memo and the company’s troubling record of exploiting its workers. Wal-Mart’s secret memo, written by Wal-Mart Executive Vice President Susan Chambers, outlines a series of shocking recommendations, including: plans to cut costs further by reducing hours; shifting from full-time to part-time workers; pushing out senior workers; and, even cutting health care costs by dissuading unhealthy or obese people from applying. In addition, Wal-Mart has a long and well-documented record of exploiting its workers, including forcing them to work off-the-clock, discriminating against female employees and breaking child labor laws.  Both the Wal-Mart Memo and its unwillingness to substantively change how it treats its workers has led to the creation of the Wal-Mart Workers of America.

The WWOA will officially launch its first membership drive today and plans to reach out to 100,000 Wal-Mart workers within the first phase of its membership drive.  Workers will be contacted through grassroots actions and through a community-based radio and print advertising campaign.

“For the first time, all Wal-Mart workers will now have the ability to join an association, to join together, to empower each other, and to build a movement for Wal-Mart to change. Working together, Wal-Mart workers can be a new and powerful force for change. Let there be no doubt, the WWOA will finally create a ‘real open door’ for change – a door Wal-Mart will never be able to close,” said Blank

Membership to WWOA is free to all former and current Wal-Mart workers who wish to join. The WWOA will provide an array of services to members including: how to qualify for health care money; a free 1-800# help hotline to provide advice and consultation about work place issues; information about class-action lawsuits affecting Wal-Mart workers; a confidential way to be a whistleblower; information and facts about their labor rights under state and federal law; how to defend themselves under America’s labor laws; a central clearing house for recent news and stories about Wal-Mart; recent actions in the grassroots campaign to change Wal-Mart; email updates on Wal-Mart and the WWOA; and quarterly newsletters.