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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.””

March 1, 2006

17 WAL-MART WORKERS SPEAK OUT NATIONALLY ON THE “”WAL-MART HEALTH CARE CRISIS”” AT 15 EVENTS


NEW DATA RELEASED SHOWS TAXPAYER COSTS FOR ALL 50-STATES/ TOP FIVE STATES ARE TEXAS, FLORIDA, OHIO, NEW YORK, AND PENNSYLVANIA

30-SECOND TV ADVERTISEMENT “”HOW COULD THEY”” RELEASED

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Wal-Mart workers, community leaders, and grassroots supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com, took part in a new national health care campaign initiative, called “”Stop the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis.”” The campaign will hold events in 14 states and included rare testimonials from 17 former and current Wal-Mart workers, the largest ever to speak out publicly at one time. The workers called on CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart to do more to help them and to improve conditions and benefits for other workers and their families.

WakeUpWalMart.com also released new state data detailing the incredible cost American taxpayers bear because of the Wal-Mart health care crisis. Based on our latest report, “”America Pays, Wal-Mart Saves,”” the national cost to taxpayers of the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis was an estimated $1.37 billion in 2005 and is projected to cost taxpayers a whopping $9.1 billion over the next five years (2006-2010).

According to the new state-by-state data, the top five states most affected by Wal-Mart’s failure to provide affordable health care to its workers and families are Texas, Florida, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania. The full report, which includes data for all 50 states, is available for download at www.WakeUpWalMart.com .

“”Unfortunately, Wal-Mart’s health care crisis has gotten worse, not better. At the same time health care costs are rising, Wal-Mart has the nerve to cut health care spending per employee. If Lee Scott is serious about working on real health care solutions, he should sit down with us and address why over 775,000 of his workers and their families have no company health care which costs taxpayers over $1.37 billion every year,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

As part of the “”Stop the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis”” campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com also released a new 30-second TV commercial entitled “”How Could They.”” The TV ad asks how Wal-Mart could pocket $11 billion in profit while failing to provide company health care to 57% of its employees leaving nearly 1 out of every 2 children of its employees without health care or on public assistance. In addition, the campaign sent out a direct mail piece which asks, “”How could they do this to us?”” The mail piece includes images of children and highlights the terrible cost and the human impact the Wal-Mart health care crisis has on America. The targeted media campaign will begin in the key swing state of Ohio.

The “”Stop the Wal-Mart Health Care Crisis”” campaign is the latest initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com. WakeUpWalMart.com is America’s national campaign to change Wal-Mart and one of the fastest growing social movements in America with 183,000 supporters in all 50 states.

TV AD Script “”How Could They””

How could Wal-Mart do this to…children. 46 percent of children of Wal-Mart employees are uninsured or on taxpayer health care. Families. Over 775,000 Wal-Mart employees and families have no company health care. Taxpayers. Wal-Mart will cost American taxpayers an estimated $9 billion over the next five years. All while pocketing $11 billion in profits. Don’t let Wal-Mart do this to us. Go to WakeUpWalMart.com Tell Wal-Mart to change.

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.””