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    UFCW Blog

January 19, 2006


(Washington, DC) – The health care system is in crisis and now, a major supermarket chain has joined the movement to help create a solution.  Kroger, the nation’s largest grocer, announced plans today to mobilize its employees and customers to participate in community meetings and online surveys sponsored by the Citizens’ Health Care Working Group.  Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is one of the fourteen members of the Working Group and has been reaching out to employers such as Kroger to enlist their involvement in this national dialogue.  Kroger is the first to respond.

“We are thrilled to have Kroger’s involvement in this effort,” said Hansen.  “We have sat at the bargaining table together for years trying to plug holes in the levees of a failing health care system.  Now, we are working together toward a solution that will help all Americans.”

“Affordable, high-quality health care for all Americans is one of the most significant challenges facing our nation,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger chairman and chief executive officer.  “Thanks to the work of the Citizens’ Health Care Working Group, all of us have an opportunity to make our voices heard.”

The Citizens’ Health Care Working Group will be holding community meetings in a number of major cities – including Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit, Phoenix and Chicago – over the next five months and conducting online surveys.  For a complete list of cities and to share feedback with the Group, please visit: www.ufcw4healthcare.org

More than 200,000 of the UFCW’s 1.4 million members are hourly Kroger employees

January 13, 2006

Workers Win with Fair Share Health Care

Washington DC — Workers gained a significant victory, yesterday, when Maryland legislators voted to override Governor Robert Erhlich’s veto of the state’s Fair Share Health Care Act.  Now, all large employers, including Wal-Mart, must pay a minimum amount for employee health care benefits as do other large employers in Maryland.

“Working families nationwide will take heart from the passage of Fair Share Health Care in Maryland,” said United Food and Commercial Workers International President Joe Hansen. “We have a national health care crisis in this country, but that doesn’t excuse large employers, like Wal-Mart, from shifting their health care costs onto taxpayers and responsible employers.”

With similar legislation as the Maryland act going forward in 30 more states, Hansen said: “UFCW members and their local unions will be actively involved in holding legislators accountable on these measures—and looking to petition their representatives in other states to introduce fair share legislation. Every time UFCW members negotiate health care benefits with their employers, they face demands for cut backs. It’s not fair to workers or responsible employers if large corporations, like Wal-Mart, game the system to get unfair business advantages.”

January 13, 2006

WakeUpWalMart.com Statement on MD State Legislature’s Override of Gov. Ehrlich’s Veto on Fair Share Health Care Bill

“”This is a great day for workers, families and children in the state of Maryland and sends an inspiring message across America that billion dollar corporations, like Wal-Mart, will have to pay their fair share for health care.

This vote makes sure Maryland will stay immune from the Wal-Mart health care crisis. The vote expands health care for workers, stops large, profitable companies from shifting their health care costs onto taxpayers, and makes sure all large, profitable employers pay their fair share for health care.

Maryland state legislators have set a trailblazing example that other states will follow. Already, WakeUpWalMart.com is building on the momentum in Maryland and will introduce Fair Share Health Care legislation in at least 30 states this year.

Unfortunately, even on the eve of the vote, Wal-Mart still doesn’t get it. They lost this vote because the American people are tired of big corporations taking advantage of them. Fair Share Health Care helps expand health care for Wal-Mart’s workers and all working families. How Wal-Mart can hire high-priced lobbyists to defeat this bill, and still look their workers in the face and tell America they support working families, is beyond comprehension.

Hopefully, one day soon, Wal-Mart will hear the message loud and clear – you should not profit by exploiting your workers. This vote proves, if Wal-Mart won’t choose to do the right thing on its own, the American people and their lawmakers will hold them accountable.””

January 11, 2006

UFCW International Union Statement on Wal-Mart Fundraising for Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich

(Washington, DC) – On the CNBC “Street Signs” program this afternoon, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich danced around the issue of his financial relationship with Wal-Mart Stores.   Ehrlich is now fighting to stop a legislative override of his veto of the “Fair Share Health Care Fund Act” that would require Wal-Mart to pay a minimum amount for employee health care benefits as do other large employers in Maryland.

Despite the Governor’s evasion of the facts, the public deserves to know that Wal-Mart hosted a fundraising reception on behalf of the Governor on December 15, 2004, just months before he vetoed the health care bill.  The invitation makes it very clear that Wal-Mart is the sponsor of the $1,000 per person event and that the Governor is the beneficiary since it states, “Make Checks Payable to Bob Ehrlich for Maryland Committee.”  A copy of the invitation is available by clicking here.

The 825,000 Marylanders who lack health insurance deserve to know the true financial relationship between the Governor and Wal-Mart Stores as he fights against the legislation that will provide fair health care for all the state’s citizens, even those who work for Wal-Mart.

The fundraiser was reported on by the Washington Post (5/4/05) and the Baltimore Sun (12/28/04).

Joseph Hansen, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, appeared on the same CNBC program as Governor Ehrlich and was asked questions concerning Ehrlich’s seeming denial of the fundraising event.

January 10, 2006


Washington, DC – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, launched a TV advertising campaign as part of a statewide grassroots mobilization effort calling on state legislators to override Governor Robert Ehrlich’s veto of Fair Share Health Care legislation. As part of the campaign, WakeUpWalmart.com also released results from a new Zogby Poll confirming a clear majority of Marylanders believe Fair Share Health Care legislation should become law.

“”There is no plausible reason why Wal-Mart and Governor Ehrlich would oppose expanding health care for working families and their children.  Maryland taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill because Wal-Mart, a company with $10 billion in profits, fails to pay its fair share for health care,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

The ad, titled “”Fair Share”” calls on all concerned Maryland citizens to contact their state legislators and ask them to support making Fair Share law by overriding Gov. Ehrlich’s veto.  The ad states, “”If Wal-Mart and Governor Ehrlich win, children, families and Maryland taxpayers lose.””

The 30-second TV spot will begin airing throughout the state of Maryland on Tuesday, January 10, 2006. A copy of the ad is available for immediate viewing on the WakeUpWalMart.com website. A transcript of the ad is attached below.

As part of this week’s initiative, WakeUpWalMart.com also released results from the first Zogby Poll on the Fair Share Health Care debate. The Zogby poll shows a clear majority of Marylanders support Fair Share Health Care legislation and believe it was wrong for Gov. Ehrlich to veto the legislation in the first place.

According to the Zogby Poll, 66% of Maryland adults agreed with the statement that “”The veto should be overridden by the state legislature. Fair Share Health Care legislation is good for Maryland and should become state law.””

The Zogby poll also found Maryland voters believe Gov. Ehrlich was wrong to veto Fair Share Health Care legislation by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  45 percent thought vetoing was the wrong decision, while only 19 percent felt it was the right decision.

Most striking, 74 percent of voters, when asked to look ahead to the 2006 statewide elections believe that an elected official’s decision to vote against Fair Share Health Care legislation will have either “”a great deal”” or “”some”” influence on whether they choose to support that candidate for re-election.

Zogby International conducted the telephone poll on 12/26-27/05 with a sample of 700 respondents. The margin of error was +/- 3.8 percentage points. The poll was commissioned by WakeUpWalMart.com. The poll was conducted on December 26-27, 2005.

“”Wal-Mart has spared no expense to try and kill this landmark health care legislation.  Why would Wal-Mart oppose paying its workers their fair share for health care?  How can Lee Scott, Wal-Mart’s CEO, look any Wal-Mart associate in the eye and explain this outrageous stance?”” asked Blank.

The breakdown of the poll results are below.

“”Fair Share”” Ad Script

What is Governor Ehrlich thinking?

Wal-Mart, a company with $10 billion in profits, isn’t paying its fair share for health care.

So nearly one out of every two children of Wal-Mart workers have no health care or rely on taxpayer programs.

Now, Governor Ehrlich and Wal-Mart want to kill Fair Share Health Care legislation in Maryland.

If Wal-Mart and Governor Ehrlich win, children, families and Maryland taxpayers lose.

Call your state legislator and support the Fair Share Health Care Act.

Please view the ad at www.WakeUpWalMart.com.

Zogby Poll/ Results & Questions Released

What do you think is the most important issue facing Maryland today? [Multiple answers/Rank order]

Overall Percent
a. Public Schools/Education    92
b. Health Care                      90
c. Job growth and economy    82
d. Traffic and transportation   71
e. Environment                      68
f. Taxes                                67
g. Terrorism                          61
h. Political corruption             60
i. Illegal Immigration             59
j. Corporate abuse                54
k. Other [record]                   0.2

Looking ahead to the 2006 statewide elections in Maryland, how much of an influence, if any, will an elected officials decision to vote AGAINST Fair Share Health Care legislation have on whether you then choose to support that candidate for reelection?

a. A great deal of influence      26                Influence   74
b. Some influence                   48
c. Very little influence              14                Little /No Influence 21
d. None/ No influence at all       7
e. Not sure (Do not read)          5

As you may know, Fair Share Health Care legislation is the name of the bill that would require large companies with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health care benefits for their workers. The Maryland state legislature passed Fair Share Health Care legislation but Governor Robert Ehrlich then vetoed the bill before it became law. In early January 2006, the legislature will be voting on whether or not to override the Governor’s veto.

At this time, which statement is closest to what you believe – statement A or statement B?

a. Statement A – The veto should be overridden by the state legislature. Fair Share Health Care legislation is good for Maryland and should become state law.

b. Statement B – The veto should NOT be overridden by the state legislature. Fair Share Health Care legislation is bad for Maryland and should NOT become law.

Results (%)

Statement A                    66
Statement B                    21
Neither/Not sure              25

Do you believe that Maryland Governor Ehrlich did [right thing or wrong thing] when he vetoed Fair Share Health Care legislation earlier this year?

a. right thing                     19
b. wrong thing                   45
c. not sure                        36

January 10, 2006

WakeUpWalMart.com’s statement on racist recommendations made on Wal-Mart website

“”Once again, Wal-Mart faces a critical moral test of whether it will do the right thing or ignore the concerns of the American people.

For Wal-Mart’s website to associate movies about prominent African American leaders with “”Planet of the Apes: The TV Series”” is offensive and insensitive.

CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart owe all of America, and especially every African American, not only an apology, but a detailed explanation of how and why Wal-mart’s DVD “”mapping system”” would ever make such racist recommendations.

Was the software programmed to do this or was this just some racist joke? In light of recent accusations of racism at a Wal-Mart store in Florida, as well as Wal-Mart’s history of using a Nazi image in its advertising last year, Wal-Mart owes America a more detailed explanation of how and why this could ever happen.

We call on Lee Scott to launch an immediate and independent investigation to find out how this racist and insensitive incident could happen at Wal-Mart. The American people deserve a real explanation as to how this terrible incident transpired and what steps Wal-Mart has taken to prevent future problems.

We can only hope that Wal-Mart will step up and do what is right for the American people.””


Wal-Mart Statement on Racist Recommendations Made on Wal-Mart Website:

The following comments can be attributed to Mona Williams, Vice President Corporate Communications, Wal-Mart:

Bentonville, Ark. – January 5, 2006 – We are heartsick that this happened and are currently doing everything possible to correct the problem. The offensive combinations that have been identified will be removed from the site by 5:30 CT today. However, with thousands of movie items available, there is an almost endless number of possible combinations. Because of that, we will be shutting down our entire movie cross-selling system until the problem is resolved.

Our system, like those of most other on-line buying sites, refers buyers interested in a particular movie to other movies through a technical process known as “”mapping.””

Walmart.com’s item mapping process does not work correctly and at this point is mapping seemingly random combinations of titles. We were horrified to discover that some hurtful and offensive combinations are being mapped together.

To further illustrate the bizarre nature of this technical issue, the site is also mapping movies such as Home Alone and Power Puff Girls to African American-themed DVDs.

We are deeply sorry that this happened.


AP article:


January 6, 2006



Washington D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com proudly announced it had exceeded all of its 2005 goals as part of its unprecedented national holiday campaign during the month of December. WakeUpWalMart.com, which officially launched its five-week 2005 holiday campaign on November 25, 2005, or “”Black Friday,”” set three goals: (1) hold 1000 actions at Wal-Marts in at least 25 states; (2) launch a coordinated multimedia campaign in multiple states; and (3) reach 150,000 supporters. By the end of December, WakeUpWalMart.com exceeded all three of its goals.

“”Again and again, Wal-Mart and Lee Scott thought the American people wouldn’t listen to the truth about their poor business practices. Lee Scott was wrong. Wal-Mart’s poor values matter to consumers, and despite Lee Scott’s claims to the contrary, new public relations initiatives in 2006 are not going to solve Wal-Mart’s growing problem. Lee Scott needs to wake up and listen to the American people’s call for Wal-Mart to change into a responsible corporation,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

During the five-week holiday campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com supporters held 1,420 actions at Wal-Marts in over 186 cities and towns in 41 states. Over ten thousand WakeUpWalMart.com supporters took park in the weekly actions. WakeUpWalMart.com also reached its target goal of 150,000 supporters two weeks early, and finished the holiday campaign with over 162,000 supporters on December 31st.

As part of the 2005 holiday campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com also successfully executed the most coordinated national multimedia campaign to change Wal-Mart in corporate history. The on-the-ground actions in conjunction with the paid media amplified our message to millions of Americans. The multimedia campaign included print, TV, and online internet advertising: full-page ads ran in the New York Times, USA Today; internet ads ran on over 19 websites; and, 15-second and 30-second TV spots highlighting Wal-Mart’s exploitative business practices and the company’s moral failures ran in multiple states as well.

In contrast to WakeUpWalMart.com’s success, and despite the most aggressive Holiday marketing campaign in Wal-Mart’s history (including the unprecedented use of celebrities, starting their advertising two weeks early and a new price guarantee), Wal-Mart reported same-store sales at the lower end of expectations, posted its worst December sales in five years, and reported an actual decline in store traffic for December. In addition, Wal-Mart also reported its profit expectations for the quarter would come in at the low end of expectations.

Wal-Mart’s poor performance in December also raises serious doubts about the credibility of Wal-Mart’s earlier statements which downplayed the dramatic impact our holiday campaign was having on the choices American consumers were making this holiday season. In response to the holiday campaign in early December, Wal-Mart posted the following statement on WalMartFacts.com:

“”The union leadership’s campaign is failing. Wal-Mart had its best October ever. And with sales growth of 4.3% in November and 10 million people shopping our stores during the first 6 hours of Black Friday, we expect a good Holiday season and feel good about our profit margins. “”

In fact, Senior Vice President Jay Fitzsimmons was the only Wal-Mart executive to publicly hint that Wal-Mart’s December sales might not be as good as their November sales and he was stripped of half of his job title on December 23rd.

“”The reality is Wal-Mart’s poor policies are impeding Wal-Mart’s progress. On issue after issue, paying a living wage, providing affordable health care, equal pay for equal work, no more child labor violations, Wal-Mart is out-of-step with the American people,”” added Blank.

Following the success of the 2005 holiday campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com is determined to build on our momentum and create an even larger movement and successful campaign to change Wal-Mart in 2006. In just nine months, beginning on April 5th of 2005, WakeUpWalMart.com has become one of the fastest growing social movements in America. Over the course of 2005, WakeUpWalMart.com launched over ten mini-campaigns, including “”All I Want for Christmas is Health Care for Mommy,”” “”Black Friday Blitz,”” “”Light a Candle for Change,”” “”Wal-Mart Week,”” “”Nothing’s Scarier than Not Having Health Care,”” “”Send Wal-Mart Back to School,”” “”Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care,”” “”Stop the Wal-Mart Nazi Ad,”” and “”Love Mom, Not Wal-Mart.””

January 6, 2006


Washington, D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com announced it will work to introduce and pass Fair Share Health Care legislation in 30 states. Fair Share Health Care legislation, first introduced in Maryland last year, makes sure large, profitable companies, like Wal-Mart, pay their fair share for health care.

The 2006 effort continues an aggressive campaign last year entitled, “”Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care.”” The campaign included: signing up citizen co-sponsors in all 50 states; helping to introduce the national Health Care Accountability Act sponsored by Senators Kennedy and Corzine and Representative Weiner, hosting hundreds of grassroots house parties in partnership with Democracy for America; and, working with other allies to help educate legislators about this important topic and work with them to introduce this landmark bill in their states.

“”Why would a company with more than $10 billion in profit oppose paying a minimum amount of health care for their workers, their families and their children? It is unconscionable. Wal-Mart has over 600,000 of their workers without company health care, and still has the nerve to oppose a law that would expand health care for their workers,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

In Maryland, state lawmakers passed the first Fair Share Health Care bill last year. After Wal-Mart contributed to his campaign, Governor Ehrlich vetoed this important bill with one of Wal-Mart’s top executives standing by his side. The Maryland legislature will vote on whether or not to override Gov. Ehrlich’s veto at the beginning of the 2006 legislative session slated to start Jan. 11th.

Yesterday, in an interview with the Associated Press, Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott said he thinks the Fair Share Health Care bill in Maryland is “”tragic.”” In response, WakeUpWalMart.com will be mobilizing our grassroots supporters to stand up for this important bill and help expand health care for working people in Maryland by holding corporations accountable for their poor policies.

“”What is ‘tragic,’ Mr. Scott, is that Wal-Mart is the only large company in Maryland who fails to pay its fair share for health care. Next week, Maryland lawmakers will be the first to veto multi-billion dollar corporations trying to sneak out of their health care responsibilities and vote for expanding health care to workers,”” added Blank.

Below is the list of states WakeUpWalMart.com and others will be working to introduce Fair Share Health Care bills this year.















*Maryland (override vote)





New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York




Rhode Island




December 20, 2005

Statement by Paul Blank, Campaign Director for WakeUpWalMart.com

“”Once again, Wal-Mart’s actions undermine Wal-Mart’s new image campaign.

In late October, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott gave a speech touting Wal-Mart’s new environmental initiatives. But, around the very same time, Wal-Mart learned a grand jury was looking into the improper transporting of hazardous waste. Not to mention, Wal-Mart’s past record of environmental problems.

Wal-Mart’s new public relations strategy of saying one thing and doing another, while disappointing, is not surprising given its use of high-priced image makers, led by Bob McAdam a former Tobacco Institute spokesperson, to mislead the American people about Wal-Mart’s real record.

We can only hope in the New Year, Wal-Mart will hear the calls for change, embrace a new path, and pursue real change which will make the American people proud.””

December 14, 2005


Washington, D.C. – The national momentum for WakeUpWalMart.com’s faith-based campaign grew again today with 13 Baptist Leaders of Faith launching a new initiative to pressure Wal-Mart to change into a more responsible and moral company. The letter released today once again called on CEO Lee Scott to change Wal-Mart into a moral company. The letter from the Baptist leaders states, “”as Christians, at the time of year when we celebrate the life, the birth and the teachings of Jesus, we call on Wal-Mart to change.”” The letter released today is the latest sign momentum is growing in the faith-based community to change Wal-Mart.

“”Once again the moral call for Wal-Mart to change grows louder. We can only hope Wal-Mart will hear our message of change, will change its immoral business practices, and will become a force for good this holiday season,”” stated Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

Today’s letter signed by Baptist leaders from Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Colorado, and Oklahoma, follows last Thursday’s launch of the “”Light a Candle for Change”” campaign. As part of this nation-wide campaign, faith-based leaders joined together to release an interfaith letter calling on Lee Scott to change, candlelight vigils were held in 27 cities in 20 states, and the “”Should People of Faith Shop At Wal-Mart?”” ad was released nationwide.

Since last Thursday, 13 additional leaders of faith from all across America have signed the interfaith letter sent to Lee Scott. In total, 93 leaders of faith, representing well over 1.3 million Americans, have joined together in this growing faith-based initiative to change Wal-Mart into a moral employer. In the letter released last week, the leaders of faith stated “”in the shared spirit of the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values.””

“”Lee Scott and Wal-Mart face a unique moment in their company’s history. Wal-Mart can embrace these moral calls for change from some of America’s most respected leaders of faith or they can continue down the dark path leading to the decline in its public image. We can only hope Wal-Mart will choose to do what is right this holiday season,”” added Paul Blank.

The overall goal of today’s letter and the “”Light A Candle for Change”” campaign is to change Wal-Mart into a responsible corporation that reflects the best moral values of our country. As part of the faith-based grassroots initiative, WakeUpWalMart.com also launched a coordinated online and TV multimedia campaign. The 30-second TV ad, titled “”People”” is the first TV advertisement to highlight Wal-Mart’s moral failures and raise the powerful question – “”Should People of Faith Shop at Wal-Mart?”” this holiday season.

The “”Light A Candle For Change”” campaign is the latest initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s leading grassroots movement to change Wal-Mart. WakeUpWalMart.com is America’s largest campaign to change Wal-Mart with over 150,500 supporters.