February, 2006

WakeUpWalMart.com Statement In Response to Ambassador Andrew Young Joining Wal-Mart Front Group

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2006

WAKE UP WAL-MART.COM STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO AMBASSADOR ANDREW YOUNG JOINING WAL-MART FRONT GROUP

The following is a statement by Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com:

“”Wal-Mart’s front group is another well-funded ploy by Wal-Mart to try and cover up its record of driving down wages, not providing affordable health care, shifting costs onto taxpayers and shipping U.S. jobs overseas.

Our campaign is fighting for justice, equality, dignity, and economic opportunity for all of Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million workers and for all working Americans. We are fighting for a better America and it starts by changing the largest employer in America, Wal-Mart. The reality is Wal-Mart makes obscene profits, exceeding $11 billion, while their workers make poverty-level wages and have no health care. Fighting to make Wal-Mart a responsible and moral corporation and reversing the race-to-the-bottom business model is the next great struggle for social and economic justice in America.

As chairman of the board of the Drum Major Institute, Ambassador Young’s organization got it correct when it said in 2005, ‘…Wal-Mart became known in our consciousness as more than a big box store with small prices, but as the employer of 2 million people whose average income is less than the poverty line, and whose refusal to provide health care pushes the tab onto the taxpayers who fund Medicaid.’

We call on Ambassador Andrew Young to use his new position to help us change Wal-Mart for the better, rather than defend its abysmal record of child labor violations and poor health care. As a consultant to Wal-Mart, Ambassador Young is now in a unique position to reach out to Wal-Mart and CEO Lee Scott and urge them to change. We hope he will work with WakeUpWalMart.com and help our efforts to create a better Wal-Mart and build a better America.”"

WHAT IS THE TRUTH? WAKEUPWALMART.COM CALLS ON WAL-MART TO COME CLEAN WITH ITS HEALTH CARE FACTS

WAL-MART REMOVES DOCUMENT FROM ITS WEBSITE AND CONTRADICTS ITSELF ON HOW MANY EMPLOYEES ARE RECEIVING HEALTH CARE COVERAGE AS OF JANUARY 2006

Washington, DC. – WakeUpWalMart.com calls on Wal-Mart and CEO Lee Scott to explain to the American public why Wal-Mart deleted a company document published on Walmartfacts.com stating Wal-Mart only covered 43% of its employees under its health care plan.  The document, published January 2006, contradicts Wal-Mart’s public statement yesterday of 46% as of January 2006, and would indicate, contrary to Wal-Mart’s claims, their health care coverage has actually gotten worse, not better.

The group also calls on Wal-Mart and Scott to explain a series of conflicting statements by the company regarding just how many Wal-Mart workers actually receive company health care coverage.

“It’s time to hold Wal-Mart accountable.  Wal-Mart is playing fast and loose with the facts to cover up its health care crisis.  If Wal-Mart wants to earn customers trust, then they should come clean with the American people and disclose how many workers they have on their health care plan,” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

Wal-Mart’s changing statements relate to three basic categories: (1) the percentage of employees insured by the company; (2) the total number of employees; and, (3) the total number of employees insured by the company.  While these numbers are bound to fluctuate throughout the year, the pattern of Wal-Mart statements suggests deliberate misrepresentation for the purpose of public relations, rather than a desire to print the underlying facts.

Over the last ten months, as the document below shows, Wal-Mart spokespeople have given conflicting statements about the facts regarding each of these important areas.  It is important for Wal-Mart to disclose the truth in order for the public and the press to evaluate the state of the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis.

Based on these conflicting statements, there is considerable doubt about the sincerity of health care reforms at Wal-Mart and whether or not they will actually raise the percentage of workers receiving company health care.

The internal document referenced (and deleted yesterday) was titled “health care backgrounder” and is attached or available by contacting WakeUpWalMart.com

WALMART’S CHANGING HEALTH CARE FACTS

How Many Wal-Mart Workers Work in the United States?

● January 2004
As of January 31, 2004, the Company employed approximately 1.5 million Associates worldwide, with approximately 1.2 million Associates in the United States
[Wal-Mart’s 10-K SEC Filing 2004]

● December 2004
Wal-Mart 5500 IRS Filing: 1,344,881 workers.
[www.freeerisa.org]

● January 2005
As of January 31, 2005, the Company employed approximately 1.7 million Associates worldwide, with approximately 1.3 million Associates in the United States.
[Wal-Mart’s 10-K SEC Filing 2005]

● October 2005
The world’s biggest retailer employs 1.2 million people in the U.S. and 568,000 of them, or about 47 percent, have health insurance, the company said. [WAL-MART SETS NEW WORKERS' HEALTH PLAN. WWD October 25, 2005 ]

● February 2006
“Fact: 1.3 million Associates work at Wal-Mart in the U.S.”
[www.walmartfacts.com]

How Many Wal-Mart Workers Are Covered By Some Health Insurance?

● April 2005
“Currently, 86 percent of Wal-Mart hourly store associates surveyed have medical insurance.”
[Walmartfacts.com]

● November 2005
From Wal-Mart’s internal memo: only 81 percent of Wal-Mart workers have some form of insurance
[Supplemental Benefits Documentation: Board of Directors Retreat FY06]

● January 2006
“We estimate that more than three-fourths of Wal-Mart associates have some health insurance, through either a company plan, a spouse’s plan, or Medicare.”
[Wal-Mart: http://www.walmartfacts.com/docs/1625_jan2006healthcarebackgrounders_576890240.pdf]

What percentage of Wal-Mart Workers are Covered By the Wal-Mart Plan?

● April 2005
Wal-Mart: “Currently, 86 percent of Wal-Mart hourly store associates surveyed have medical insurance – 56 percent of those with coverage received health care insurance from Wal-Mart.” Therefore, 48% of Wal-Mart associates were covered by the company plan (Multiplying 56 percent of 86 percent would equal a total of 48% of Wal-Mart associates).
[Walmartfacts.com - April 2005]

● May 2005
“The company, based in Bentonville, Ark., says it covers health care for more than half its employees, and opens a route off state Medicaid rolls.”
[“PA to Wal-Mart: Pay Up for Health Care,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/16/05]

● October 2005
“The world’s biggest retailer employs 1.2 million people in the U.S. and 568,000 of them, or about 47 percent, have health insurance, the company said.”
[“Wal-Mart Sets New Workers’ Health Plan,” Women’s Wear Daily, 10/25/05]

● January 2006
“On average in 2005, 73% of all associates were eligible for Wal-Mart plans and 43% of all associates chose to enroll”
[http://www.walmartfacts.com/docs/1625_jan2006healthcarebackgrounders_576890240.pdf]

● February 2006
“Wal-Mart’s ranks of company-insured now stand at 47 percent, [Company Spokesman] Fogleman said.”
[“Utahns foot insurance bill” Salt Lake City Tribune, 2/5/06]

How Many Wal-Mart Workers Are Covered by the Wal-Mart Health Plan?

● February, 24, 2006
Wal-Mart has said its new Value Plan has encouraged more workers to sign up for health care. But its records show that the percentage of workers who have enrolled in a company health insurance plan has increased only slightly in the last year. As of January 2005, Wal-Mart insured 45.8 percent of its workers. Today, it insures 46.2 percent, or about 615,000 out of 1.3 million. (NY Times, Feb 24, 2006)

● January 1, 2006
“As a result, Wal-Mart said, 70,000 new employees signed up for insurance for 2006, bringing the number covered by the company’s plan to 638,000.”
[New York Times, 1/5/06]

● January 19, 2006
“A statement distributed by the company said more than 615,000 of the company’s 1.3 million workers are covered by Wal-Mart health plans.”
[AP, 1/19/06]

● January 19, 2006
Wal-Mart, which is considering challenging the Maryland law, will fight such efforts in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, spokesman Nate Hurst said Friday. Nationwide, 638,000 of Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million workers have health insurance through the company, he said. The company expects support from other businesses that could be targeted next, Hurst said. [Harrisburg Patriot News, 1/19/06]

● December 6, 2005
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has enrolled 70,000 additional workers in its health-care programs for next year at a time when its insurance offerings have come under harsh criticism. … Of Bentonville-based Wal-Mart’s 1.2 million U.S. workers, about 568,000, or 47 percent, had health insurance this year. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette,  12/6/05]

●December 3, 2005
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. added 70,000 U.S. workers to its health-care plans for next year, with roughly a third of those choosing the retailer’s new low-cost plan. … At the beginning of this year, 568,000 of Wal-Mart’s total 1.2 million U.S. employees were enrolled in its health-care plans, amounting to roughly 47% of the retailer’s overall domestic work force. The national average for retailers is 46%, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a health-care research group. [WSJ, 12/3/05]

● October 25, 2005
The world’s biggest retailer employs 1.2 million people in the U.S. and 568,000 of them, or about 47 percent, have health insurance, the company said. In its attempt to increase the ranks of insured, Wal-Mart is bucking a national trend among corporations looking to curtail spiraling health care costs. [Women’s Wear Daily, 10/25/05]

● June 23, 2005
Of Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million full- and part-time employers, the lawmakers estimate that more than 600,000 do not have company insurance. Company critics say Wal-Mart wages are so low and the health premiums charged to employees so high, even some full-time employees qualify for government-funded health care. [Washington Post, 23 June 2005 ]

WAKEUPWALMART.COM RESPONDS TO WAL-MART

The following is a statement by Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com, regarding Lee Scott’s upcoming speech to the National Governor’s Association.

“”Unfortunately, Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott still doesn’t get it. While Wal-Mart’s proposed changes to their health care plan are certainly long overdue, and we certainly support expanding benefits to part-timers, the Wal-Mart health care crisis infecting America cannot be solved by publicity stunts. Wal-Mart’s proposed changes are clearly designed to try and salvage a faltering public image, rather than make substantive changes to improve health care benefits for its employees.

Our new report, “”America Pays, Wal-Mart Saves,”" proves Wal-Mart’s repeated attempts over the last year to tell the American people it is improving health care is nothing more than a facade. In fact, the report shows how the Wal-Mart health care crisis is actually getting worse, not better. As an example, Wal-Mart now fails to provide company health care to over 775,000 (57%) of its employees, up significantly from last year. The report estimates Wal-Mart’s poor health care cost taxpayers nearly $1.4 billion for 2005 and will cost taxpayers over $9.1 billion for the next five years.

We agree with Lee Scott’s acknowledgment that health care is a serious issue for working people in America, and we are more than happy, as we have proposed to him personally, to sit down with him and work together to help improve the lives of Wal-Mart workers, their families, and to make Wal-Mart a more successful business.

Wal-Mart needs to understand it cannot have the world both ways. Wal-Mart wants to tell Wall Street it is controlling (ie. cutting) labor and health care costs, but wants to tell Main Street it is improving its health care offerings. Just like Lee Scott ’s new proposals in October failed to improve Wal-Mart’s image or its health care, these new proposals ring just as hollow and will meet the same fate.

We can only hope, for America’s sake, Wal-Mart and Lee Scott will realize the only way to stem the growing public outrage over Wal-Mart’s poor health care is to make substantive changes that will actually provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance to more of its employees.

Lee Scott should sit down with us, prior to his official April announcement of these programs, and consider the path by which we can make Wal-Mart a better business and improve the great country we live in.”"