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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.

January 23, 2006

UFCW Statement on the Albertsons Sale

The UFCW welcomes the sale of Albertsons to the SuperValu-led consortium,  and stands ready to play a positive role in making the new management team successful in serving the interests of workers, shoppers, and shareholders.
The union believes all Albertson’s stakeholders can derive benefit from the sale and will actively engage in behalf of that end.
UFCW local unions will continue to aggressively enforce union contracts.
The UFCW represents 110,000 Albertson’s employees nationwide.
January 19, 2006

MAJOR SUPERMARKET CHAIN JOINS CAMPAIGN FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM

(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.””