• Background Image

    UFCW Blog

February 27, 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.””

February 25, 2006

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 ]

February 23, 2006

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.””

February 23, 2006

WAL-MART HEALTH CARE SPENDING ACTUALLY DROPPED IN LATEST PUBLIC FILING

NEW REPORT ESTIMATES WAL-MART HEALTH CARE CRISIS COST TAXPAYERS NEARLY $1.4 BILLION IN 2005/ PROJECTS COST OF $9.1 BILLION OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS

Washington, DC – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s leading campaign to change Wal-Mart, released a new report detailing the “”Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis.”” “”The Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis”” is the result of Wal-Mart’s failure to provide affordable health care to over half of its workforce which forces, according to estimates, several hundred thousand Wal-Mart workers and their families onto taxpayer-funded public health care.

In fact, based on Wal-Mart’s own documents, published on WalMartfacts.com in January 2006, the percentage of Wal-Mart workers with company health care decreased by 5% – from 48 percent to 43 percent. Therefore, in 2005, Wal-Mart admits it failed to provide company health care to 57% of its workforce, leaving over 775,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families without company health care. The new number is far worse than has been previously reported and is contrary to recent public statements by the company.

WakeUpWalMart.com issued a new report today after conducting a full analysis of all reported data on Wal-Mart’s health care spending. The report, titled “”America Pays, Wal-Mart Saves: The Growing Cost of the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis,”” estimates that, in 2005, nearly 300,000 Wal-Mart workers and their family members depended on taxpayer-funded public health care at a total cost to American taxpayers of $1.37 billion.

The most striking finding in the report is the projected cost to American taxpayers of the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis if Wal-Mart successfully completes its publicly stated goal of building 1,500 additional stores. Based on the current cost and the future store growth, the report projects the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis will cost American taxpayers approximately $9.1 billion over the next 5 years, 2006-2010.

“”The Wal-Mart health care crisis is real, it’s growing, and the cost to taxpayers is enormous. Wal-Mart’s dirty little secret is to force taxpayers to pay nearly $1.4 billion in their health care costs, while Wal-Mart pockets $11 billion in profits. Wal-Mart will cost American taxpayers more than $9 billion over the next five years in health care costs alone”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

Another startling finding in the report is the fact that Wal-Mart’s health care spending per worker actually declined by 3.5% during the period of 2003-2004, according to Wal-Mart’s latest filing with the Internal Revenue Service. This is notable for two reasons: 1) national health care spending per worker for the rest of America rose by 7.6% during this period, and 2) Wal-Mart’s repeated public statements about its health care spending and health care coverage do not reflect the reality of Wal-Mart’s own data submitted to the IRS. More detailed figures for Wal-Mart’s health care spending will be released when Wal-Mart files its Form 5500 for 2005.

“”Wal-Mart ought to be ashamed. While health care costs and the number of uninsured are rising, Wal-Mart feeds America’s health care crisis by actually cutting back on its health care spending. It’s outrageous and the American people and their lawmakers will not tolerate such irresponsibility in corporate America,”” added Paul Blank.

The report paints a disturbing picture of the scope and cost America bears because of the Wal-Mart health care crisis. Among the findings:

• Of a total workforce in the Unites States of 1.39 million in October 2005, 57 percent or 775,000 Wal-Mart workers, had no company health care. The actual percentage of Wal-Mart workers without company health care increased by 5 percent in 2005.

• The cost of the Wal-Mart health care crisis for 2005 is estimated at $1.37 billion. A previous study, by Professor Michael Hicks from the Air Force institute, estimated that each Wal-Mart employee increased Medicaid expenditures by $898. For Wal-Mart’s 2005 work force, this would cost taxpayers $1.24 billion.

• Wal-Mart’s health care expenditures per worker actually declined by 3.5% during the period of 2003-2004, according to Wal-Mart’s latest filing with the Internal Revenue Service.

• Based on Wal-Mart’s growth projections for 2006-2010, the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis will cost taxpayers an estimated $9.1 billion over the next five years.

• Despite Wal-Mart claiming only 5% of its workforce is on public health care assistance, based on the available data, it is estimated Wal-Mart averages 13 percent of its workforce on public health care assistance. The 13 percent figure is 3.25 times higher than the national average of 4 percent for all employers and 2.6 times higher than the 5 percent average Wal-Mart states publicly.

• Based on the data from the states who have released dependent care numbers, it is estimated that for every 12 Wal-Mart workers, one dependent of a Wal-Mart employee is on a taxpayer-funded public health care program. According to Wal-Mart’s own internal health care memo, Wal-Mart believes 27 percent of its employees’ children are using state Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Programs. In Georgia, for example, nearly 10,000 children of Wal-Mart workers are enrolled in the state PeachCare program – nearly 14 times more than any other employer.

• Nationwide, it is estimated that 183,382 Wal-Mart workers and 112,768 family members of Wal-Mart workers are forced onto taxpayer-funded public health care assistance. The total number of Wal-Mart workers and family members who are part of the Wal-Mart health care crisis is 296,150.

• For 2005, ending the Wal-Mart Health Care crisis would provide an extra $1.37 billion in additional funding for national and state health care programs. In terms of programs, the $1.37 billion in federal and state tax dollars currently going to subsidize Wal-Mart could be used to reinstate proposed funding cuts in the 2007 federal budget of over $1 billion in health care grants to states.

The complete report, “”America Pays, Wal-Mart Saves”” is being released as part of an upcoming national health care campaign initiative called “”Stop the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis.”” The latest campaign initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com will officially launch nationwide with events in 12 states on February 28th. Additional state-by-state estimates of the cost of the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis will be released on February 28th. The complete “”America Pays, Wal-Mart Saves”” health care memo is available for download at WakeUpWalMart.com.

February 8, 2006

WakeUpWalMart.com Statement on Today’s Lawsuits Filed by The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA)

RILA Challenges the Fair Share Health Care Act,
which recently became law in the state of Maryland.

Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com stated, “”Today’s lawsuit is just another attempt by Wal-Mart and its allies not to pay its fair share for health care in the state of Maryland and elsewhere. The Maryland Attorney General has already said Fair Share Health Care legislation is in compliance with the law. Wal-Mart would be better off changing its behavior and living up to its responsibilities. States should be applauded, not sued, for trying to address the fact that in every state where we have data Wal-Mart is costing taxpayers millions by having more employees on taxpayer-funded health care than any other employer.””

February 8, 2006

NOW, NARAL, PLANNED PARENTHOOD, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS, & WAKEUPWALMART.COM ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT

Washington D.C. – Today, the National Organization of Women (NOW), NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and WakeUpWalmart.com issued a joint statement calling on Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart to stop denying women their “”right to access a legally-approved drug.”” The joint statement is in response to a lawsuit filed by three Massachusetts women who are suing Wal-Mart over its failure to provide access to emergency contraceptive pills.

“”Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott must stop this policy of denying millions of American women access to a legal medicine. Wal-Mart should not be able to use its massive power to dictate a woman’s right to choose her own medication,”” stated Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com

The joint statement issued by America’s leading women’s groups representing over 10 million women and WakeUpWalMart.com directly states that CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart should not “”decide what medicines women may or may not take.”” The group further states, “”Wal-Mart’s actions are clearly an outrageous intrusion into the health and privacy of all U.S. women. When a doctor prescribes emergency contraception for a woman, Wal-Mart does not have the right to overrule that decision.”” The entire statement is available below.

WakeUpWalMart.com also announced the launch of the “”Wal-Mart vs. Women…Again”” campaign. The initial campaign will focus on online grassroots activism. The group will launch online advertising on progressive websites asking Americans to sign a petition calling on Wal-Mart and CEO Lee Scott to change its policy which denies millions of women access to legal medicine. The campaign also points out Wal-Mart’s troubling record on women’s issues, including the largest gender discrimination lawsuit in history affecting more than 1.6 million female employees, a recent accusation by a former Connecticut worker who says Wal-Mart fired her because she was pregnant, and the current lawsuit filed by three Massachusetts women against Wal-Mart for being denied access to a legal medicine.

———

Joint Statement in Support of Lawsuit Demanding Access to Emergency Contraception at Wal-Mart

At the same time Wal-Mart faces the largest gender discrimination class action lawsuit in U.S. history, affecting 1.6 million women, three Massachusetts women are now suing Wal-Mart over its failure to provide access to emergency contraceptive pills.

Wal-Mart’s decision not to stock or sell emergency contraception-also known as Plan B or the “”morning-after pill””-unnecessarily denies women everywhere their right to access a legally-approved drug. The lawsuit charges that Wal-Mart is violating a Massachusetts policy requiring pharmacies in the state to dispense all “”commonly prescribed medicines.””

Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott should not decide what medicines women may or may not take. Wal-Mart’s actions are clearly an outrageous intrusion into the health and privacy of all U.S. women. When a doctor prescribes emergency contraception for a woman, Wal-Mart does not have the right to overrule that decision.

To be most effective, emergency contraception should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. Because Wal-Mart has put so many smaller stores out of business, in a number of areas it is the only pharmacy for miles. No woman at risk for unintended pregnancy, be it the result of a broken condom or sexual assault, should be turned away by Wal-Mart and forced to find another pharmacy while the clock is ticking.

Wal-Mart’s statement that they choose “”not to carry many products for business reasons,”” rings hollow and dismisses the heartfelt concerns of many women in this country.

We strongly support the lawsuit brought in Massachusetts and will fight to make sure all women who work at Wal-Mart or choose to shop there are treated fairly and equally and have access to all legally-approved medications.

We call on Wal-Mart to stop discriminating against women, reverse their policy on blocking access to emergency contraception pills, and to ensure, in the future, all legal medicines are provided to women at Wal-Mart pharmacies across the U.S.

Paul Blank
Campaign Director
WakeUpWalMart.com

Dr. Martha Burk
Director, Corporate Accountability Project
National Council of Women’s Organizations

Kim Gandy
President
National Organization for Women

Nancy Keenan
President
NARAL Pro-Choice American

Karen Pearl
Interim President
Planned Parenthood Federation of America

February 8, 2006

NOW, NARAL, PLANNED PARENTHOOD, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS, & WAKEUPWALMART.COM ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT

Washington D.C. – Today, the National Organization of Women (NOW), NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and WakeUpWalmart.com issued a joint statement calling on Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart to stop denying women their “”right to access a legally-approved drug.”” The joint statement is in response to a lawsuit filed by three Massachusetts women who are suing Wal-Mart over its failure to provide access to emergency contraceptive pills.

“”Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott must stop this policy of denying millions of American women access to a legal medicine. Wal-Mart should not be able to use its massive power to dictate a woman’s right to choose her own medication,”” stated Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com

The joint statement issued by America’s leading women’s groups representing over 10 million women and WakeUpWalMart.com directly states that CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart should not “”decide what medicines women may or may not take.”” The group further states, “”Wal-Mart’s actions are clearly an outrageous intrusion into the health and privacy of all U.S. women. When a doctor prescribes emergency contraception for a woman, Wal-Mart does not have the right to overrule that decision.”” The entire statement is available below.

WakeUpWalMart.com also announced the launch of the “”Wal-Mart vs. Women…Again”” campaign. The initial campaign will focus on online grassroots activism. The group will launch online advertising on progressive websites asking Americans to sign a petition calling on Wal-Mart and CEO Lee Scott to change its policy which denies millions of women access to legal medicine. The campaign also points out Wal-Mart’s troubling record on women’s issues, including the largest gender discrimination lawsuit in history affecting more than 1.6 million female employees, a recent accusation by a former Connecticut worker who says Wal-Mart fired her because she was pregnant, and the current lawsuit filed by three Massachusetts women against Wal-Mart for being denied access to a legal medicine.

———

Joint Statement in Support of Lawsuit Demanding Access to Emergency Contraception at Wal-Mart

At the same time Wal-Mart faces the largest gender discrimination class action lawsuit in U.S. history, affecting 1.6 million women, three Massachusetts women are now suing Wal-Mart over its failure to provide access to emergency contraceptive pills.

Wal-Mart’s decision not to stock or sell emergency contraception-also known as Plan B or the “”morning-after pill””-unnecessarily denies women everywhere their right to access a legally-approved drug. The lawsuit charges that Wal-Mart is violating a Massachusetts policy requiring pharmacies in the state to dispense all “”commonly prescribed medicines.””

Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott should not decide what medicines women may or may not take. Wal-Mart’s actions are clearly an outrageous intrusion into the health and privacy of all U.S. women. When a doctor prescribes emergency contraception for a woman, Wal-Mart does not have the right to overrule that decision.

To be most effective, emergency contraception should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. Because Wal-Mart has put so many smaller stores out of business, in a number of areas it is the only pharmacy for miles. No woman at risk for unintended pregnancy, be it the result of a broken condom or sexual assault, should be turned away by Wal-Mart and forced to find another pharmacy while the clock is ticking.

Wal-Mart’s statement that they choose “”not to carry many products for business reasons,”” rings hollow and dismisses the heartfelt concerns of many women in this country.

We strongly support the lawsuit brought in Massachusetts and will fight to make sure all women who work at Wal-Mart or choose to shop there are treated fairly and equally and have access to all legally-approved medications.

We call on Wal-Mart to stop discriminating against women, reverse their policy on blocking access to emergency contraception pills, and to ensure, in the future, all legal medicines are provided to women at Wal-Mart pharmacies across the U.S.

Paul Blank
Campaign Director
WakeUpWalMart.com

Dr. Martha Burk
Director, Corporate Accountability Project
National Council of Women’s Organizations

Kim Gandy
President
National Organization for Women

Nancy Keenan
President
NARAL Pro-Choice American

Karen Pearl
Interim President
Planned Parenthood Federation of America

February 2, 2006

WAKEUPWALMART.COM LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE CAMPAIGN “”FIRST WAL-MART, NOW BUSH””

GROUP TARGETS WAL-MART & PRESIDENT BUSH FOR EFFORTS TO SHIFT HEALTH CARE COSTS FROM EMPLOYERS TO EMPLOYEES HURTING AMERICA’S CHILDREN AND GROWING OUR HEALTH CARE CRISIS

Washington, DC – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, launched a new online grassroots effort calling on Wal-Mart and President George Bush to stop supporting health savings accounts, which are the first step by corporate America to destroy our employer-based health care system, where two-thirds of American workers currently get their health care coverage.

The “”First Wal-Mart, Now President Bush”” online initiative was launched in response to Wal-Mart’s and now President Bush’s newfound support for so-called privatized health care options, like “”Health Savings Accounts.””

“”Wal-Mart is determined to use its special interest power to destroy the employer-based health care system in America. Both Pres. Bush and Wal-Mart have teamed up to shift the health care costs from multi-billion dollar corporations to workers struggling to get by – it is a national disgrace,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com

Beginning in January 2006, Wal-Mart introduced Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) as an additional health coverage option for its 1.3 million employees in the United States. Wal-Mart’s HSAs will do nothing to increase the number of workers’ insured under the company’s plan, since only Wal-Mart employees who have had company health care for more than a year are eligible for the HSAs. In general, HSAs shift the burden for health care coverage to workers, come with high deductibles, punish low-income workers who can not afford to contribute to such plans, and reward wealthy executives and business owners with tax-free shelters. Because of Wal-Mart’s low pay, Wal-Mart workers can neither substantially invest in an HSA nor afford the exorbitant HSA medical deductibles, which range up to $6,000 under Wal-Mart’s plan.

“”Sadly, Wal-Mart and President Bush share the same irresponsible idea for solving America’s health care crisis. Wal-Mart and Bush’s scheme will worsen the growing health care divide in America, not insure one additional worker, and grow corporate profits at the expense of workers, their children, and their families,”” added Blank.

The online campaign, which will initially launch on key progressive websites, like Dailykos.com, will reach over 10 million unique visitors during the first week. The petition will call on Americans to “”say no to the Wal-Mart/Bush-backed HSAs and yes to corporations paying their fair share for health care.””

The “”First Wal-Mart, Now Bush”” campaign is the latest grassroots effort by WakeUpWalmart.com. Since April 5th of 2005, over 176,049 supporters have joined WakeUpWalMart.com – one of America’s fastest growing social movements.

The text of the online petition follows below:

Online Petition

Tell Bush and Wal-Mart – “”Health Savings Accounts Won’t Save Health Care””

Only George Bush would turn to Wal-Mart, a corporation who fails to provide company health care to more than 600,000 of its workers, for health care advice. What’s Wal-Mart’s solution to America’s growing health care crisis – privatized health care so you pay for it and they don’t!

Why do Wal-Mart and George Bush want health savings accounts (HSAs)? Simple.

HSAs are a backdoor for large profitable companies, like Wal-Mart, to further reduce or even eliminate health benefits for hard-working Americans. By shifting health care costs away from employers and on to workers, HSAs will not only undermine employer-based health plans, where two-thirds of Americans get coverage, but will force even more workers and their families to go without health care.

Help us stop the Wal-Mart & Bush health care crisis from infecting America.

Tell Bush and his wealthy corporate contributors like Wal-Mart, HSAs are a huge step backward for working families and do nothing to solve our nation’s health care crisis. Rich profitable companies, like Wal-Mart, have a responsibility to provide affordable health care to hard working Americans, not come up with new schemes to try and reduce their health care costs at the expense of workers, their families and their children.

Sign our petition today. Say no to the Wal-Mart/Bush-backed HSAs and yes to corporations paying their fair share for health care.

February 1, 2006

Labor Movement Mourns the Passing of Coretta Scott King

(Washington, D.C.) — Our nation has suffered a great loss with the passing of civil rights heroine, Coretta Scott King.  With her strength of character, commitment and faith, she was a leader in the civil rights movement through her own actions as well as her partnership with her late husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  When hatred and bigotry took the life of her husband and left her children without a father, she turned her grief into strength to continue the work and achieve the dream of justice for all.

She worked tirelessly and unselfishly to see that Dr. King’s legacy of civil rights through civil disobedience and non-violence is a permanent part of American history and culture.  The success of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta and the ongoing work of the family’s charitable foundation is a testament to Mrs. King’s vision and determination.  We are deeply saddened that her time on earth has come to an end.  We will continue to honor her life by fighting against racism and discrimination in American workplaces.