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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.””

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.””

January 6, 2006

WAKEUPWALMART.COM HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS/ WAL-MART REPORTS WEAK SALES AND TRAFFIC DECLINE FOR DECEMBER


NATIONAL PRINT & TV MEDIA CAMPAIGN ACHIEVE RECORD IMPACT
DURING FIVE-WEEK EFFORT

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

WAKEUPWALMART.COM ANNOUNCES AGGRESSIVE EFFORT TO INTRODUCE FAIR SHARE HEALTH CARE BILLS IN 30 STATES

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.

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

*Maryland (override vote)

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Missouri

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

Ohio

Oklahoma

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

Tennessee

Washington

Wisconsin

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

NATIONAL FAITH-BASED CAMPAIGN TO CHANGE WAL-MART GAINS MOMENTUM

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.

December 14, 2005

Wakeupwalmart.com’s Response to Lee Scott’s Statement:

Rather than address the genuine moral concerns raised by 65 leaders of faith, Lee Scott chose to ignore their concerns, insult them, question their sincerity, and cite manufacturing job losses his company has helped to create. This holiday season, Lee Scott should look into the mirror and consider the millions of American businesses and manufacturing jobs he and his company’s business model have personally helped destroy, and hear the moral calls for change from leaders of faith. We can only hope that someday soon Lee Scott will finally – finally – do what is right for his workers, their families and America.

Lee Scott’s response to a letter by 65 religious leaders asking Wal-Mart to change:

These religious leaders have unfortunately been misled. We know they clearly seek the truth and are in search of the real facts. We share their compassion for people just like we continue to provide jobs to those who want a better life, including adding 100,000 new jobs at Wal-Mart this year. We support charitable causes that make life better in our communities to the sum of about $200 million in charitable giving this year, and we save the average American family $2,300 per household.

In terms of health care, we’re making positive change with new health care programs where we have signed up more than 70,000 associates and 30,000 of their family members to these new plans. Wal-Mart’s health plans will cover more than 1 million people in 2006. We also provide career opportunities to people who want to reach higher goals — three-quarters of our managers started in hourly jobs.

We will not be deterred from our mission, despite the noise from union leadership or critics whose motives are less than pure.

Lee Scott’s response to TV ad:

Surely many Americans are deeply offended that union leadership would use religion as just another tactic in the negative attack campaign against a company that donates more money to good works than any other company in America. And with all the news reports of manufacturers laying off tens of thousands of skilled union workers this Holiday Season, we’d hope the union leadership would show more compassion for its members rather than spending its member dues attacking a company that creates 100,000 jobs a year.

December 14, 2005

LEADERS OF FAITH CALL ON WAL-MART AND CEO LEE SCOTT TO “”CHANGE FOR THE BETTER”” THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Washington, D.C. – Leaders of faith representing over 1.3 million Americans have joined WakeUpWalMart.com in a nationwide initiative to call on Wal-Mart and CEO Lee Scott to “”change for the better”” this Holiday season. As part of this faith-based effort, 65 respected faith-based leaders signed a joint letter to Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, which states “”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.”” The letter to Lee Scott is part of a new faith-based grassroots and multimedia campaign, named “”Light a Candle for Change,”” launched by WakeUpWalMart.com.

“”This Holiday season, Wal-Mart, America’s largest employer, has the power to change, to become better, to reflect the best of our values. It is our sincere hope Wal-Mart will choose the higher road and become a moral example that all people of faith can embrace proudly,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

The goal of 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. The letter to Lee Scott goes on to state “”there is no better present Wal-Mart could give to its workers, their families, and America than to change for the better this holiday season.”” As part of this new campaign, the families and children of supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com will also be holding local candlelight vigils at Wal-Marts in at least 27 cities in 19 different states, including Oregon, Kentucky, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Illinois.

“”Out of our religious heritage comes the recognition that we are not allowed to deprive people of their God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In this respect the Wal-Mart form of business represents plantation capitalism; the few become very wealthy and the many become poorer,”” stated Reverend James Lawson of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA.

The faith-based grassroots initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com will also include a coordinated online and TV multimedia campaign. The 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 30-second TV spot will be running in 6 states, including Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia. The ad can also be viewed at WakeUpWalMart.com.

A copy of the letter and the script for TV spot are attached.

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 has over 148,000 members and supporters in all 50 states.

 

** Script of “”People”” **

Our faith teaches us

“”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you””

If these are our values, then ask yourself

Should people of faith shop at Wal-Mart this Holiday season?

When Wal-Mart repeatedly broke child labor laws.

Is being sued by 1.5 million women for discrimination.

And, over 600,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families have no company health care.

If these are Wal-Mart’s values

Should people of faith shop at Wal-Mart?

Should you?

 

** Letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott **

Lee Scott

CEO, Wal-Mart

Bentonville, AR

 

Dear Mr. Scott,

The holiday season is a time to honor and remember the virtues of hope, love, joy, sharing, sacrifice, and faith. For people of all faiths, the celebration of the holiday season is a time to remember and embrace the best of our values. It is a time to reflect upon our lives, the impact we have on others, and the responsibility we all have to improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.

The prophet Moses in Deuteronomy 25:13-15 teaches “”Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy … lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.”” During this holy season, we must ask ourselves – at what moral price do we accept the sins of exploitation and greed? Sins, it is sad to say, which are exemplified by one of America’s largest and richest corporations, Wal-Mart.

Everyday, Wal-Mart’s so-called low prices come at a high cost to the moral virtues and greatness of your workers, our families, and our nation. Everyday, America pays too high a cost for Wal-Mart’s immoral business practices.

As all faiths teach us, the current exploitation of those who work to provide us with goods and services, whether at Wal-Mart or its suppliers, can never be morally justified. Under all conditions, it is simply immoral and wrong. It goes against the teachings of our spiritual leaders and our commitment to justice, fairness, and community.

If there is one shared hope all faiths have in common, it is the central belief that we must work together to improve the lives of others. This central tenet, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ is the bedrock of our values, our faith, our families and our communities.

Unfortunately, Wal-Mart needlessly ignores the Golden Rule putting our children and their workers needlessly at-risk.

Despite $10 billion in profit last year, more than 600,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families struggle with no company-provided health care. Even more troubling, nearly 1 out of every 2 children of Wal-Mart workers lives without health care or relies on a public program. Wal-Mart has repeatedly broken child labor laws. Wal-Mart is being sued by 1.5 million female employees for discrimination. And, Wal-Mart continues to pay poverty-level wages, forcing many of its workers to make the impossible choice between rent and health care.

It is hard to imagine why Wal-Mart would consciously choose to make 1.3 million workers suffer in the name of “”low prices,”” a suffering we can no longer let stand.

For those of us who are Christians, we celebrate the life, the birth and the teachings of Jesus, and we call on Wal-Mart to change. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we ask ourselves:

Would Jesus support the exploitation of so many for the profit of so few?

Would Jesus tolerate systematic discrimination against women?

Would Jesus stand by idly while thousands of children go without health care?

Would Jesus accept violations of child labor laws?

The answer is simple. Jesus would not embrace Wal-Mart’s values of greed and profits at any cost, particularly when children suffer as a result of those misguided values.

Those of us who are Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist also have scriptures that remind us that God is just and God’s servants must practice justice in all of our words and deeds. As we prepare to celebrate our own holiday traditions, we also ask ourselves, is it right to shop at Wal-Mart? Would our God want us to support Wal-Mart’s values and actions with our dollars?

We know Wal-Mart has the power to improve the lives of millions of workers, their families, and our communities. Wal-Mart can become, if you and the Walton Family so choose, a leading example of moral greatness in corporate America. You have the power to change and set an example that would truly honor and reflect the call of all faith traditions to righteousness and justice.

So beginning today, 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. It is within your power to become a truly responsible, ethical, and righteous company.

In the end, there is no better present Wal-Mart could give to its workers, their families, and America than to change for the better this holiday season.

 

Sincerely,

Reverend John H. Thomas, President, United Church of Christ

Reverend James Lawson, Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA

Kim Bobo, Executive Director, Interfaith Worker Justice

Bishop Gabino Zavala, Regional Bishop in the San Gabriel Pastoral Region (Archdiocese of Los Angeles, CA)

Reverend Doctor William Jarvis Johnson, Calvary CME Church of Pasadena, CA

Reverend Alexia Salvatierra, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)

Father Michael Pfleger, Faith Community of St. Sabina Parish, Chicago, Illinois.

Reverend Bennie E. Whiten, Jr., United Church of Christ

Retired Bishop Jesse DeWitt of the United Methodist Church

Reverend Mark Wendorf, McCormick Theological Seminary and Board Member of Interfaith Worker Justice

Professor William P. Quigley, Loyola University New Orleans School of Law and Board member of Interfaith Worker Justice

Dr. Edie Rasell of the Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ.

Reverend Ron Stief, Director of Washington, D.C. office, United Church of Christ

Pastor Sylvia Tucker, Union Baptist Church of Hopewell, VA

Mr. Ralph Ramirez, President of Richmond, VA Southern Council Leadership Conference Chapter

Reverend Rebekah Jordan, Mid-South Interfaith Network for Economic Justice

Reverend Sinclair Oubre, J.C.L. of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church of Port Arthur, TX

Reverend Doctor John J. O’Brien, C.P.

Reverend Bridgeforth, Shiloh Baptist Church, VA

Reverend King, Southern Council Leadership Conference of Danville, VA

Reverend Rufus Fuller II Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, VA

Reverend William Avon Keen of Traynham Grove Church,VA

Reverend John Snider, Saint Stephen’s Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, MN

Reverend Bill Bulson, Holy Apostles, MN

Reverend Timothy M Johnson, Cherokee Park United Church of St. Paul, MN

Reverend Johnathan C. Tetherly, Chaplain of Hampden County House of Corrections, MA

Father Thomas Mueller, S.S. Cyril & Methodist Orthodox Church, WI

Father Jerry Schroeder, St. Benedict the Moor Parish of Milwaukee, WI

Reverend Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, Good Sheperd Lutheran Church in Waukesha, WI

Reverend Kelly Fowler, First United Methodist Church of Waukesha, WI

Reverend Doctor Ronald Faust, Kansas City Interfaith Worker Justice, MO

Reverend Tom Blakley, Barry Christian Church, MO

Reverend Spencer Barrett, Co-chair, Kansas City Interfaith Worker Justice, MO

Pastor Robin Hood Senior Pastor, Redeemed Outreach Ministries, IL

Reverend Fr. Alfredo Gundrum , Pastor of St. Kevin, Chicago, IL

Reverend Jose Landaverde, Amor de Dios, United Methodist Church, IL

Reverend William F. Marx, Pax Christi of Western New York

Reverend Dan Schifeling, Church of Nativity, United Church of Christ

Sister Jean Sliwikski, Western New York Workers’ Rights Board

Reverend Suzelle Lynch, Unitarian Universalist Church, Brookfield WI

Reverend Doctor. Roland Womack, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, Progressive Baptist Church, Milwaukee, WI

Pastor Susan Burchfield, Immanuel Lutheran Church of Seattle, WA

Reverend Richard Vogel, Executive Pastor, St. James United Methodist Church, Kansas City, MO

Reverend Emanuel Cleaver II, St. James United Methodist Church of Kansas City, MO

Reverend Norman D. Copeland, AME Church, Los Angeles, CA

Reverend Calvin S. Morris, Ph.D. Executive Director Community Renewal Society of Chicago, IL

Reverend Jennifer Kottler, Protestants for the Common Good of Chicago, IL

Reverend Jon M. Luopa, Univeralist Unitarian Church of Seattle WA

Sisters of St Joseph of Springfield, MA Justice and Peace Committee

Reverend William F. Brisotti, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church, NY

Reverend Catherine Schulyer, Protestant Campus Ministry of Stony Brook, NY

Reverend Richard E. Edwards, Stony Brook Community Church, NY

Reverend Thomas W. Goodhue, Executive Director, The Long Island Council of Churches, NY

Reverend Paul Ratzlaff, The Unitarian Universalist of Fellowship of Huntington, NY

Sister Rosemary Everett, SNJM, Sisters of the Holy Names, CA

Father Bill Leininger, Human Concerns Commission, Diocese of San Jose, CA

Monsieur Gene Boyle, St. Thomas Aquinas of Palo Alto, CA

Reverend John Freesemann, Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church of San Jose, CA

Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash of Los Gatos, CA

Reverend Carol Been, The Interfaith Council of San Jose, CA

Ms. Mary Quinn Kambic, Catholic Labor Committee of Baltimore, MD

Ms. Evely Laser Shlensky, Board member, Executive Committee, Interfaith Worker Justice

Mr. Monroe B. Sullivan, National Board Member, Interfaith Worker Justice

Ms. Karen Herrling, Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network

Mr. Stephen Hand, Editor, Traditional Catholic Reflections

November 22, 2005

NEWLY RELEASED PRICING STUDIES FIND WAL-MART CHARGING CUSTOMERS WRONG PRICE IN FOUR STATES

WakeUpWalMart.com Supporters to Distribute 1 Million ‘Wal-Mart Consumer Alert’ Flyers Beginning on ‘Black Friday’

Washington, D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com and the National Consumers League sent a joint letter to Attorneys General in all 50 states calling on them to launch a full-scale investigation into Wal-Mart’s pricing practices based on the findings of two newly released studies conducted by the University of Illinois-Chicago Center for Urban Economic Development and the University of California-Berkeley.

The two studies examined the pricing accuracy, the difference between the shelf-price and the cash register price, at Wal-Mart stores in California, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana and concluded the pricing errors at Wal-Mart stores in these 4 states failed to meet the federal standards set by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). The federal standard, set by the NIST, requires no more than 2 out 100 randomly selected items from any one store may be incorrectly priced.

The study found that almost 85% of the Wal-Mart stores in the IL, MI & IN study failed to meet the federal standard for pricing errors. In California, the results were worse with almost 87% of Wal-Mart stores failing to meet the federal standard for pricing accuracy.

In Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, Wal-Mart charged the wrong price for 6.4% of the items purchased statewide for the survey, and in California, 8.3% of the items purchased statewide.

“”Wal-Mart customers beware. Consumers shouldn’t have to gamble with the price they pay at Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart has been charging customers the wrong price by failing to meet the federal pricing standard in four of the largest states in the nation. Wal-Mart customers have a right to know whether or not they are paying the wrong price,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

In the letter to the Attorneys General, the National Consumers League and WakeUpWalMart.com suggest ways Wal-Mart could correct this potential pricing problem, including: requiring Wal-Mart to post notices at each register warning customers that they may be overcharged; requiring Wal-Mart to hire enough employees to accurately price merchandise; requiring each Wal-Mart store to hire an employee solely responsible to ensure accurate pricing; and require item pricing in its stores.

“”On behalf of all consumers, especially as we enter the Holiday shopping season, we are calling on every state to immediately investigate Wal-Mart’s pricing and scanner practices and to take appropriate action to fix this potential problem. At least in the four states studied, Wal-Mart may need to change its slogan to ‘Sometimes Low Prices’ if you are lucky,”” added Blank.

Both studies came to the following conclusion, “”A majority of Wal-Mart stores tested in this evaluation of price accuracy demonstrated errors in pricing that exceeded federally accepted standards for large retail establishments.”” In fact, 63% of the surveyed stores in California were exceeding the federal standard just based on their overcharging of customers. Furthermore, accounting for the margin of error, between 75% and 94% of Wal-Mart stores in the 3 Midwest states are failing to meet federal standards for price accuracy.

The results of the studies raise serious concerns nationally given Wal-Mart’s top-down, centralized control by its corporate headquarters in Bentonville, AR.

In addition to releasing the study, supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s largest grassroots campaign to change a corporation with over 130,000 supporters, will be mobilizing an unprecedented grassroots campaign to inform consumers about Wal-Mart’s pricing errors. Beginning on November 25th, the traditional kick-off to the Holiday shopping season, supporters will be taking part in a national consumer alert campaign with actions in 36 states and 102 cities. WakeUpWalMart.com plans to distribute more than 1 million ‘Wal-Mart Consumer Alert’ flyers and launch a multimedia effort to inform American consumers about the pricing errors found in these four states.

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Statement by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan:

“”I am very concerned about the scanning error rate for Wal-Mart as reported in the study by the University of Illinois at Chicago. My staff and I are taking a close look at these findings,”” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “”As we enter the busiest shopping season of the year, this study is a glaring reminder that all consumers must pay close attention to the pricing screen at checkout. If you think you have been overcharged, you should complain immediately to store personnel. Consumers may also complain directly to my office at 1-800-243-0618.””

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Statement by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

“”This data shows serious discrepancies between the prices posted and the amounts actually charged – meriting prompt investigation -because Wal-Mart has a legal obligation to be always accurate, not always low,”” Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. “”Nothing is more fundamental to fair pricing than keeping promises about prices. Consumers should be spared a sweepstakes system when they come to the cash register. They deserve reliable, rock-solid price guarantees. The price they are given should be the price they are charged.

“”I will take appropriate action to protect consumers and assure the integrity of Wal-Mart’s prices if my investigation uncovers unacceptable price inaccuracies in Connecticut.””