May, 2006

NEW EVIDENCE SHOWS WAL-MART WORKING CLOSELY WITH RIGHT WING ATTACK GROUP


GROUP CALLS ON WAL-MART TO FIRE BOB MCADAM AND LEE CULPEPPER AND END RELATIONSHIP WITH RIGHT WING ATTACK DOG, RICK BERMAN

Washington, D.C. – WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, has uncovered a close and working relationship between high-ranking senior Wal-Mart executives, Bob McAdam and Lee Culpepper, and right-wing radical Rick Berman.

Earlier this year, Rick Berman, a well-known right-wing radical and defender of mercury poisoning, drunk driving and Big Tobacco, launched a campaign attacking hard-working union members. At the time of Berman’s launch, Wal-Mart spokesman, Sarah Clark, publicly denied any involvement or connection between Wal-Mart and Berman’s group, the Center for Union Facts. According to the Los Angeles Times, Clark said Wal-Mart had “”never heard”" of Berman.

Now, Wal-Mart publicly admits it has not only heard of Berman, but has been working with him. The Detroit Free Press reports, “”Wal-Mart said it has a relationship in which it exchanges union information with Berman, the group’s head.”" [Detroit Free Press, 5/24/06

In addition, an investigation by WakeUpWalMart.com confirms that two senior Wal-Mart officials, Bob McAdam and Lee Culpepper, have worked closely with Berman on “”special projects”" that have related to defending Big Tobacco, defending mercury poisoning, and other right-wing causes.

For example, Bob McAdam worked with Phillip Morris at the Tobacco Institute during the same period of time that Phillip Morris contributed $900,000 to Berman’s pro-tobacco campaign. Lee Culpepper worked at the National Restaurant Association. The NRA’s members contributed to Berman’s pro-mercury poisoning campaign. In fact, Lee Culpepper, while working at the National Restaurant Association described his relationship with Berman in these glowing terms, “”I’ve worked with Rick for years, and indeed he is a lightning rod. People have strong feelings about him, but he helps the industry.”"

“”Under the leadership of two new senior officials, Wal-Mart has turned to the radical right-wing to try and salvage its declining public image,”" said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

Blank continued, “”The American people will be deeply disturbed to learn Wal-Mart has developed such a close relationship with a right-wing fanatic like Rick Berman.

It appears Bob McAdam, best known as Big Tobacco’s liar-in-chief, has created a culture of lies and deception at Wal-Mart that threatens the company’s credibility with the media, consumers and the American people. Since Bob McAdam joined the company, Wal-Mart has misled the public on its health care statistics, lied on its banking application, and falsely claimed it didn’t know it was hiring illegal workers. Lee Culpepper’s relationship with Berman is equally reprehensible.

America must wonder why Wal-Mart wants to be associated with three individuals who have spent their careers lobbying against the public interest including defending mercury poisoning, drunk driving, and big tobacco.

Unless Wal-Mart wants to be forever associated with these abhorrent causes, Wal-Mart needs to immediately fire its right-wing attack dogs Bob McAdam and Lee Culpepper, end its disgusting association with Rick Berman’s group, and issue an apology to all of the hard-working families demonized by Mr. Berman.”"

WAKEUPWALMART.COM EXPOSES WAL-MART’S NEW HEALTH CARE PLAN FOR PART-TIME WORKERS


DOCUMENTS EXPOSE WAL-MART’S SECRET PLAN TO CUT WORKERS’ HOURS, SHIFT TO A MAJORITY PART-TIME WORKFORCE, AND CUT BENEFITS FOR FULL-TIME WORKERS “”TRANSITIONED”" TO PART-TIME

Washington D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, released copies of Wal-Mart’s new health care benefits plan for current part-time employees and full-time employees “”transitioned”" to part-time. The health care documents were given to the group by Wal-Mart employees concerned about the terrible effects that Wal-Mart’s new policies, in particular the drastic transition from full-time to part-time, are having on employee morale, customer service and store performance.

The first document, a 7-page booklet, titled “”My Benefits: New Peak Time Benefits: Making a Difference for You,”" details the specific changes to Wal-Mart’s health care benefits which the company announced last month. The second document is a memo from Wal-Mart’s “”administrative committee”" to all “”full and peak-time hourly associates,”" titled a “”Summary of Material Modifications to Associates’ Health and Welfare Plan.”"

Both documents were given to employees as part of a special enrollment period which runs from May 15-26, 2006. The special enrollment period, however, is not open to all Wal-Mart associates. Only associates who are part-time and have more than 1 year of service but less than 2 years of service (part-timers with more than 2 years of service are only eligible if they enroll their dependent) and full-time employees who were just ‘transitioned’ to part-time status, are eligible to enroll.

“”Based on these new documents, either Wal-Mart falsely claimed it would offer its low cost plan to 50% of its Associates, or Wal-Mart has ‘transitioned’ many more workers to part-time than has been reported publicly. Either way, Wal-Mart’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality, and Wal-Mart workers are paying way too high a price,”" said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

Based on the two documents, it is obvious Wal-Mart’s “”new health care changes”" will do little to expand health care coverage for many of its 1.3 million employees. Rather, Wal-Mart’s health care changes are clearly structured to cut health care costs and minimize the public relations disaster from slashing over 200,000 full-time jobs and replacing or transitioning them with low paid part-time workers.

According to a JP Morgan report issued in January 2006, as well as the infamous internal health care memo authored by Wal-Mart Executive Vice President Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart publicly states it intends to shift hundreds of thousands of full-time workers to part-time status. In the two health care documents, Wal-Mart coldly refers to this shift as a “”transition”" and now describes part-time workers as “”peak-time”" employees.

Under the new health care changes, all ‘transitioned’ employees lose most of their benefits, including dental, life insurance and disability immediately, and will lose their health care benefit after one year. In addition, part-time Associates are unable to enroll their spouses. The lack of spousal coverage is consistent with Wal-Mart’s desire to cut health care costs by decreasing spousal coverage. As Chambers states in the memo, “”spouses are by far the most expensive plan members to cover.”"

Unfortunately, Wal-Mart’s new health care plans continue to remain unaffordable for the average Wal-Mart employee. Wal-Mart’s most affordable health care option, the Value Plan, has a $3,000 deductible for family coverage and several other deductibles for prescription drug coverage and hospital procedures. Based on all of the premiums and deductibles in the so-called ‘Value’ plan, a part-time Wal-Mart employee could have to pay up to 58% of his/her salary for an individual plan and up to 93% for family coverage.

Most disturbingly, newly transitioned employees who take advantage of this special enrollment will lose any money they have already spent on their deductible and will once again have to pay the full $3,000 deductible.

“”For the sake of Wal-Mart’s workers, their families, and the American taxpayer, we call on Lee Scott and Wal-Mart to propose real health care changes that don’t dangerously discriminate against single, uninsured part-time workers and exclude health care coverage for spouses. Wal-Mart’s plan to expand health care coverage to employees while making it more unaffordable through lower pay and less hours is deceptive and a national disgrace,”" added Blank.

Based on the two leaked health care documents, Wal-Mart workers will face significant restrictions under the new health care changes, including:

1) Only uninsured part-time Wal-Mart workers, who also insure their dependents, are eligible to enroll during this special enrollment period.

  • “”If you are a peak-time hourly Associate who has been employed by Wal-Mart for more than two years and are not currently enrolled in any medical coverage option offered by the AHWP, you may enroll yourself in any of the available peak time medical coverage options (except HSA Qualified or HSA Qualified Performance plans), but only if you enroll your dependent children.”" (Memo: Summary of Material Modifications to Associates Health and Welfare Plan; p. 2)

2) Spouses of part-time associates will not be eligible during this enrollment period.

  • “”Your spouse is not eligible for Medical coverage.”" (My Benefits: New Peak Time Benefits Making a Difference for You: page 3)

3) Former full-time workers, now reduced to part-time workers, will lose an array of additional benefits.

  • “”Dental, Optional Life Insurance, Company-Paid Life Insurance, Dependent Life Insurance, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, Short-term Disability, Short-term Disability Plus, and Long-Term Disability – will stop at the end of the pay period in which you transition.”" (My Benefits: New Peak Time Benefits Making a Difference for You: page 4)

4) Former full-time Wal-Mart workers, now reduced to part-time workers, who change plans during this “”Special Enrollment”" period will lose credit for any money they have already spent against their deductible. Therefore, a worker could have to pay as much as $3,000 in deductibles twice.

  • “”If you switch Medical plans, or if you change your deductible during the Special Enrollment or within 60 days due to your transition, your annual deductible will start over. Amounts already incurred toward your annual deductible will not carry over to your new plan option or new deductible.”" (My Benefits: New Peak Time Benefits Making a Difference for You: page 4)

5) Wal-Mart made no changes to the cost of the deductible for family or individual coverage on any plans. Deductibles on Wal-Mart’s most affordable plan are as high as $3,000 for family coverage and $1,000 for individual coverage.

  • Copies of the two Wal-Mart health care documents describing these health care changes are available for download at www.WakeUpWalMart.com.

Secret Wal-Mart Memo Obtained by WakeUpWalMart.com Exposes Wal-Mart Front Group

Today’s New York Times reports on a ‘secret Wal-Mart memo’ obtained by WakeUpWalMart.com which shows how Wal-Mart is exerting corporate pressure to force suppliers to join a right-wing front group bought and paid for by Wal-Mart.

Unbelievably, though, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, Working Families for Wal-Mart, more accurately described as ‘Wal-Mart for Wal-Mart,’ still claims that it is “”autonomous.”" But, the truth is the group is 100% controlled by Wal-Mart and run out of the same office as Wal-Mart’s war room. Even ‘Wal-Mart for Wal-Mart’ steering committee member Martha Montoya, when asked if the organization had received money from anyone other than Wal-Mart said, “”No, not that I know of.”"

“”This just exposes what a sham Wal-Mart’s publicity stunts have become. Wal-Mart has become so desperate it is even willing to cross the line and intimidate its suppliers to try and salvage Wal-Mart’s faltering public image,”" said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com

The memo, authored by Terry Nelson (the former National Political Director for Bush-Cheney 2004), asks suppliers to join Wal-Mart’s front group because, “”Wal-Mart is under attack, and Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club suppliers have the power to do something about it and help protect their business.”"

Unfortunately, Wal-Mart’s memo to suppliers makes no mention of the fact that Wal-Mart’s image is declining because the company pays poverty level wages, provides unaffordable health care, helps ship U.S. jobs overseas, is being sued for discrimination, and continues to get caught for child labor violations.

Rather than address these serious issues, Wal-Mart is now using its own personal right-wing front group to try and deceive the American people. The group, in conjunction with two right-wing firms, The Herald Group and Crosslink Strategies, is running a smoke and mirrors campaign, complete with paid steering committee members and canvassers, to create a false impression that there are people willing to defend the indefensible.

We hope this memo will expose ‘Wal-Mart for Wal-Mart’ for the sham that it is and will begin to force the company to address the real issues in this campaign. Until Wal-Mart changes, WakeUpWalMart.com, on behalf of the American people and its 231,000 real grassroots supporters, will continue to build the largest grassroots campaign to change a corporation in history proving the power we all have to change Wal-Mart and change America for the better.

To download a copy of the memo please visit www.WakeUpWalMart.com.