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May 10, 2006

Statement on Wal-Mart providing inaccurate testimony to the FDIC regarding its bank application

The following can be attributed to Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com:

“”How many times is Wal-Mart going to mislead America? Whether the issue is Wal-Mart’s lack of affordable health care, gender discrimination, crime at its stores, child labor or shipping our jobs overseas, Wal-Mart consistently hides the truth and the American people pay the price.

Now, Wal-Mart has gone one step further. It appears Wal-Mart arrogantly lied to federal regulators, the national media and the American people on its banking application and thought it could get away with it. Wal-Mart’s inaccurate testimony raises serious questions about what else the company isn’t telling the FDIC. It is time for Wal-Mart to stop its pattern of deception, come clean with federal regulators, be honest with the American people and take responsibility for its actions.””

Wal-Mart testimony inaccurate on bank leases

WASHINGTON, May 9 (Reuters) – Wal-Mart gave inaccurate testimony to U.S. regulators considering its application to open a bank, wrongly describing a provision of some leases signed by banks in its stores, according to leases obtained by Reuters.

The inaccuracy involves testimony Wal-Mart Stores Inc. gave to support its statement that it has no plans to replace community banks now in its stores with bank branches of its own.

Last month, the company told the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the agency reviewing Wal-Mart’s application to start limited bank operations, that it has no plans to enter full-service banking, and it pointed to the leases signed by banks in its stores as evidence of its long-term plan to support independent banks.

Specifically, Wal-Mart told the FDIC that leases signed by banks were renewed at the discretion of the banks alone.

But documents seen by Reuters include a provision that requires both the bank and Wal-Mart to agree to renew.

According to industry sources, that provision is included in a handful, not all of the leases signed by Wal-Mart’s bank tenants. Wal-Mart told Reuters it was an oversight and that the testimony it gave to the FDIC it had believed to be true.

May 2, 2006

WAKEUPWALMART.COM RELEASES FIRST NATIONAL WAL-MART CRIME STUDY – “”IS WAL-MART SAFE?””

57 COMMUNITY GROUPS SIGN JOINT LETTER CALLING ON WAL-MART TO IMPROVE SECURITY BY MOTHER’S DAY

Washington, DC – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, released the first national study on Wal-Mart and crime. The study, entitled “”Is Wal-Mart Safe?”” analyzed the official 2004 police incident reports (i.e. calls for police service) at 551 Wal-Mart store locations. Among the key findings of the study, include:

  • In 2004, police received 148,331 calls for service for the 551 Wal-Mart stores analyzed, averaging 269 reported police incidents per store.
  • For just the 551 stores sampled, there were 2,909 reported police calls for “”violent or serious crimes,”” including 4 homicides, 9 rapes or attempts, 23 kidnappings or attempts, 154 sex crimes, 550 robberies or attempts and 1,024 auto thefts.
  • Based on the number of reported police incidents for the sample, it is estimated police responded to nearly 1 million police incidents at Wal-Mart in 2004 costing taxpayers $77 million annually.
  • Wal-Mart stores have a significantly higher number of reported police incidents than nearby Target stores. For the sample, the average rate of reported police incidents at Wal-Mart stores was 400% higher than the average rate of incidents at nearby Target stores.

The full study “”Is Wal-Mart Safe?”” and the official police incident reports are available for download and review at www.WalMartCrimeReport.com.

“”The high number of reported police incidents at Wal-Mart stores is shocking and outrageous. Wal-Mart’s customers and the community have a right to know whether or not their Wal-Mart is safe. Wal-Mart should immediately fund an independent study to explore the issue of crime at Wal-Mart stores nationwide and immediately take the necessary steps, including putting in roving security patrols and staffing security cameras, to ensure the safety of its customers at every Wal-Mart store,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

WakeUpWalMart.com released its study, “”Is Wal-Mart Safe?”” as part of a nationwide initiative called “”Help Make Wal-Mart Safe by Mother’s Day.”” As part of the initiative, WakeUpWalMart.com and 57 community groups released a joint letter calling on Wal-Mart’s management to immediately address the public safety issues and concerns of its consumers – 70 percent of whom are women shoppers – by taking all of the necessary steps to improve security at all of its stores by Mother’s Day.

“”Public safety and crime are serious issues. Despite internal warnings about crime at some of Wal-Mart’s stores, it is clear Wal-Mart still has a high number of reported police incidents at too many stores. As our nation’s largest retailer, Americans deserve to know the truth about whether or not Wal-Mart is safe,”” added Blank.

As a service to the general public, WakeUpWalMart.com also launched a new website, WalMartCrimeReport.com. WalMartCrimeReport.com will collect and disseminate Wal-Mart crime data to the general public. The website allows customers and the general public to download copies of the official police incident reports sent to us by local police departments. The WalMartCrimeReport.com website will also provide a variety of documents that chronicle statements by Wal-Mart officials on public safety, including internal Wal-Mart memos on public safety issues.

WakeUpWalMart.com is a national movement of 225,000 Americans in all 50 states who have joined together to change Wal-Mart into a responsible and moral corporation.

April 28, 2006

Wayne Hanley elected as new UFCW Canada National Director

TORONTO, April 28, 2006 – Wayne E. Hanley, the 48-year-old president of UFCW Canada Local 175 and International UFCW Vice-President, was elected National Director of UFCW Canada on Thursday by the UFCW Canada National Council. Until the election of a successor at Local 175, Hanley will also continue in his role as the local’s president.

Hanley’s election as National Director follows the retirement announced earlier this week by Michael J. Fraser who had served as UFCW Canada National Director since 1999 and as International Executive Vice-President of UFCW since 2004.

“Michael Fraser has done an outstanding job leading UFCW Canada,” said Hanley. “I am committed to advancing the programs he has initiated. For more than 25 years, Michael has dedicated his life to improving the lives of working Canadians and I’m determined to continue that agenda.”

Like Fraser, Wayne Hanley also started out as grocery store employee in 1976. The teenage customer service clerk at a London, Ontario Miracle Food Mart soon became involved as a union activist. Over the next eight years, he went on to become a steward, a member of his local union’s executive board, and then an organizer when he was hired on staff at UFCW Canada Local 175 in 1984.

In 1992, Hanley was elected as Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Canada Local 175. In 1999, he was elected President of Local 175 which today has grown to become North America’s largest single local, with over 50,000 members.

“I’ve been a friend and have worked with Wayne for over 20 years,” says Michael Fraser. “His vision, leadership and commitment to the members has never wavered. With Wayne, the future of UFCW Canada could not be in better hands. I congratulate him on his election. No one could be more deserving and I leave feeling confident of greater things ahead for Wayne and UFCW Canada.”

As for Fraser’s own future, “UFCW Canada will always be a part of my life, just a smaller part. I plan to continue to contribute in some way but what I’m really looking forward to is spending more time with my kids.”

UFCW Canada is one of Canada’s largest private sector unions with more than 230,000 members across the country working in retail, warehousing, food and beverage processing, manufacturing, hospitality, health care and other professional and service sectors.

April 20, 2006

WAKEUPWALMART.COM CALLS ON WAL-MART CEO LEE SCOTT TO “”WORK TOGETHER”” AND “”SEIZE THE MOMENT FOR TRUE CHANGE””

ANNOUNCES GOAL OF 1 MILLION GRASSROOTS SUPPORTERS BY DECEMBER 2008

Rogers, AR – In anticipation of CEO Lee Scott’s speech before the national media, WakeUpWalmart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, called on Wal-Mart to “”seize the moment for true change”” and “”work together to make Wal-Mart a better company.”” The group, again, offered to sit down with Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, and his executive team, to find specific, fair and just solutions that would improve the lives of its 1.3 million workers, their families, and help change America for the better.

WakeUpWalMart.com also announced it will be holding rallies in 35 cities all across America next week featuring its new national campaign slogan – “”Change Wal-Mart, Change America.”” Beginning next week, WakeUpWalMart.com will launch a series of initiatives across the country based on this new message and theme. As part of this new grassroots push, WakeUpWalMart.com, already one of America fastest growing movements in America with over 212,000 grassroots supporters, announced it is setting a goal of at least 1 million supporters by December 2008.

As part of this new initiative, Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalmart.com issued the following statement:

“”Now is the time for Wal-Mart to seize the moment for true change. The American people are tired of publicity stunts, half-truths and empty words that have become synonymous with corporate America. Americans wants Wal-Mart to change for the better, to be a responsible corporation, and to reflect the best of our values.

We renew our offer to work together with Wal-Mart on specific, just and fair solutions to help make Wal-Mart a better business, and we remain committed to our goal of making sure Wal-Mart pays a living wage, provides affordable, comprehensive health care to all of its workers, adopts a zero tolerance policy on child labor, ends discrimination, protects American manufacturing jobs, and addresses the community concerns of crime, traffic, congestion and sprawl associated with a Wal-Mart store.

The debate over Wal-Mart is now a major political, moral and economic issue in America, and our campaign for social and economic justice cannot and will not end until Wal-Mart changes. In the coming months and year, we will grow our movement from 212,300 supporters to 1 million supporters who believe, like we do, the American people have the power and the responsibility to ‘Change Wal-Mart and Change America’.””

April 18, 2006

Response to Wal-Mart

“”After more than a year of publicity stunts, the health care crisis at Wal-Mart continues to get worse, not better. Today, Wal-Mart fails to provide company health care to 57% of its workforce or 775,000 employees and their families, up from 52% a year ago.

While this represents a first step to expand eligability, none of Wal-Mart’s proposed changes address the fundamental problem with their health care plan – extremely high deductibles which poverty-level workers cannot afford. If you couple Wal-Mart’s changes for part-time workers with the company’s already announced cuts to full-time workers, Wal-Mart’s changes are not likely to provide health care to one additional worker.

We hope Wal-Mart will use its national media conference as a chance to offer real solutions for its workers, not more of the same stale rhetoric which has resulted in a declining public image.””

April 18, 2006

UFCW STATEMENT ON FIRINGS AT WOLVERINE PACKING

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that least 21 Mexican workers of Wolverine Packing in Detroit, Mich., were fired when they missed work to attend an immigration rally in March. This harsh punishment follows the passage of a shameful and punitive bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives which would criminalize undocumented immigrant workers and anyone who assists them.

“”The fact is that the entire meatpacking industry depends on–and often exploits–the labor of immigrant and undocumented workers, especially when they don’t have a union contract,”” said Mark Lauritsen, Vice President and Director of UFCW’s Food Processing Packing and Manufacturing Division. “”These companies don’t have the luxury of outsourcing jobs to countries where they can exploit workers and ignore labor laws. Instead, they import workers who are unaware of their rights, and they reap huge profits from immigrants who take the hardest, most dangerous jobs in the country.””

It is companies like Wolverine Packing that fuel a disposable workforce by importing, exploiting, and tossing people away. Firing immigrant and undocumented workers when they stand up for human rights is a common tactic employed in the meatpacking industry. It’s a way to maintain a frightened and intimidated workforce, and to create pool of exploitable workers without rights or any means to secure their future.

Throughout the country, numerous unionized meatpacking plants with an immigrant workforce represented by the UFCW chose to go dark on the day of the immigration rallies. It was a move that recognized the fact that without their immigrant workforce, the plants would be unable to function.

Much of the US economy relies on immigrant workers. Immigrant rights are worker rights. As long as companies and Congress try to force second class status on immigrant workers, wages and workplace standards for all American workers will suffer.

April 5, 2006

WAKEUPWALMART.COM CELEBRATES 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Washington D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com celebrated its one year anniversary by announcing more than 210,000 supporters have joined America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart in its first year – including 25,690 in just the last month alone. As part of the first year anniversary celebration, WakeUpWalMart.com also released a new 8-minute grassroots video/DVD, entitled, “”America’s Campaign to Change Wal-Mart.”” The video/DVD will be a key organizing tool for grassroots supporters and will be used to launch our new monthly, local community meetings called WakeUps to reach out and recruit new supporters.

In addition, WakeUpWalMart.com announced a new goal of reaching 1 million supporters by the end of 2008.

“”Thanks to our supporters, we had an incredible first year. With 210,000 supporters, we have made Wal-Mart a key public issue, exposed the negative impact Wal-Mart is having on its workers and our communities and forced Wal-Mart to respond. If we could accomplish this with 210,000 people, imagine what we will be able to do with 1 million Americans united to change Wal-Mart,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director, WakeUpWalMart.com

Since the campaign’s launch on April 5th, 2005, WakeUpWalmart.com has become one of fastest growing social movements in America. WakeUpWalmart.com has led the national campaign to change Wal-Mart by running 15 separate mini-campaigns on themes such as “”Stop the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis,”” scrutinizing Wal-Mart in the national, state and local media, conducting extensive research on Wal-Mart’s business and employment practices, and holding thousands of grassroots actions in dozens of cities and states all across America.

“”During the next year, our supporters are going to grow WakeUpWalMart.com into the most powerful force for change Wal-Mart has ever seen. On behalf of the American people, we will not stop and we will not rest until Wal-Mart changes into a responsible and moral corporation. We can only hope Wal-Mart finally wakes up and pursues the kind of real change the American people are waiting for,”” added Blank.

We launched many mini-campaigns over the last year, including : the “”Fair Share for Health Care”” campaign, where one brave Wal-Mart worker, Cynthia Murray, helped pass Fair Share Health Care legislation in Maryland; a 5-week Holiday Campaign with over 1,400 actions in at least 25 states; our “”2006 March Madness-Tournament for Change”” membership drive, where over 25,000 new supporters joined our campaign; our “”Nothing’s Scarier than Not Having Health Care”” campaign, where over 113 Halloween candy fundraisers were held in 91 cities in 31 states to raise health care money for Wal-Mart workers; the “”Send Wal-Mart Back to School”” campaign, where WakeUpWalmart.com joined with America’s two largest teachers organizations, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers; the “”Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care”” campaign, where grassroots supporters held 120 house parties in 38 states and community leaders held nine press conferences in 9 different states; the “”Stop the Wal-Mart Nazi Ad”” campaign, where our grassroots supporters forced Wal-Mart to apologize for using a Nazi image; and the “”Love Mom, Not Wal-Mart”” campaign, where over 21,000 supporters pledged not to buy their Mother’s Day Gifts from Wal-Mart.

April 5, 2006

WakeUpWalMart.com Statement About Wal-Mart’s “”Jobs and Opportunity Zone”” Initiative

In the face of a faltering public image, Wal-Mart seems determined to launch almost daily public relations stunts that speak loudly about change, but fall terribly short.

What the American people want is for Wal-Mart to start addressing why so many of its employees are paid poverty-level wages, why hundreds of thousands of its workers and families are provided unaffordable health care or left uninsured, and why town after town must struggle with crime, traffic, sprawl, and the loss of both small businesses and good-paying manufacturing jobs. If Wal-Mart really believes in real change, these are the issues which Wal-Mart must first address.

We would hope that in the future Wal-Mart will effectively address the very issues that the American people care about and which have led to Wal-Mart’s poor public image. We can only hope that for the sake of a better America, that day comes sooner rather than later.

March 9, 2006

A Statement from the UFCW on the FDIC

(Washington, DC) – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) looks forward to participating next month in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) public hearings on Wal-Mart’s application for an industrial loan company (ILC) charter in Utah.

“The unprecedented number of comments against the Wal-Mart application show broad-based opposition to approving the application.” said Michael J. Wilson, UFCW International Vice President and Director of Legislative and Political Action.   “We fully expect that the public hearings will offer further evidence on why the FDIC has ample authority to reject Wal-Mart’s application.”

ILCs are regulated differently than banks because they were originally small entities permitted by a loophole in the Bank Holding Act.  If Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer with a history of unethical business practices, is granted access into banking via an ILC charter, there will be far-reaching consequences beyond the original intent of the act.    If Wal-Mart charters in Utah, a “Wal-Mart bank” could branch out into more than 20 states because of state reciprocal branching laws.  While Wal-Mart denies it plans to enter retail banking, its previous applications contradict their current publicly stated plans.  Approving the Wal-Mart application risks not only undermining the separation between commerce and banking, but threatens an expansion of “Wal-Mart banks” in multiple states, and in multiple aspects of the banking industry.

With an ILC charter, Wal-Mart’s sheer size and greed would threaten our nation’s banking system.  If Wal-Mart enters retail banking, competitors will have to follow suit in order to remain competitive.    This would endanger community banks that are essential to local economies and cause concern among small local businesses across the nation.

“UFCW will continue working with its partners in the Sound Banking Coalition, in the labor movement, and with consumer and community groups to make sure the FDIC is aware of the serious concerns about Wal-Mart’s application into banking,” said Wilson.

The UFCW expects these and other issues to be thoroughly debated by regulators and lawmakers before any decision is made on granting Wal-Mart access into banking.

March 7, 2006

Statement on Wal-Mart’s use of bloggers as reported by the New York Times

“”In an effort to salvage its declining image, Wal-Mart is now using conservative bloggers to promote its right wing agenda. Borrowing a page from Karl Rove’s playbook, Wal-Mart’s public relations team is trying to create a false sense of support for a flawed business model which is hurting families.

The truth is the American people deserve more from Wal-Mart than manufactured rhetoric and false notions of support. The American people will not tolerate deception. For example, there is no such group ‘Working Families for Wal-Mart.’ The group is a front, comprised of several paid consultants and business associates and staffed by Wal-Mart’s own public relations firm.

These dirty campaign tricks didn’t work for big tobacco and they won’t work for Wal-Mart. We hope Wal-Mart will abandon the divisive tactics of its right wing advisors and embrace a better path. A path which addresses our genuine concern for its workers and helps restore people’s faith in corporate America.””