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Wake Up Wal-Mart is a union-backed campaign group affiliated with the UFCW. It is based in Washington, D.C.marker and is often critical of the business practices of Wal-Martmarker, the world’s largest retailer, and the largest private employer in the United Statesmarker. The group claims Wal-Mart is currently offering its employees substandard wages and health care benefits, and has called on the retailer to improve both. Wake Up Wal-Mart was founded April 5, 2005 and maintains the web site WakeupWalMart.com, the centerpiece of the organization.

Rationale

"All across America, consumers and taxpayers are waking up to the high cost of Wal-Martmarker's poverty wages, reliance on taxpayer funded state health care programs and devastating impact on communities. Wal-Mart's values are not America's values," stated Blank. "There is only one force powerful enough to change the largest corporation in the world, the largest retailer in the world and the world -- the American people. We are Wal-Mart's consumers and it is time for Wal-Mart to wake up and start doing what is right for its employees, our families, and our country."

Website

Group's information on Wal-Mart

The group asserts problems in the following areas and makes and provides its documentation for its claims. It provides brochures on these issues in downloadable pdf format.

Television ads

A recent television spot featured an implication that Wal-Mart funds terrorism. While not stating it directly, the commercial features a chalkboard showing that Wal-Mart's buying of goods and services from China funnels millions of dollars into that country. It then states that China sponsors foreign terrorism, with the implication being that by supporting Wal-Mart, a citizen is supporting terrorism.

Workers' wages and rights



  • Associates cannot earn enough to support a family according to “Poverty and Family Budgets” online at www.epinet.org.


  • Wal-Mart can afford wage increases according to the group's analysis of the Wal-Mart Annual Report 2005


  • Wal-Mart illegally forces employees to work off-the-clock, based on wage and hour lawsuits listed in that same report. The group also refers to the Associated Press article, "Federal Jury Finds Wal-Mart Guilty in Overtime Pay Case," which appeared in the Chicago Tribune, which appeared on Business section page 3, on December 20, 2003, and to Steven Greenhouse's article, "Suits Say Wal-Mart Forces Workers to Toil Off the Clock," which appeared in the New York Times on page A1 on June 25, 2002.


  • Wal-Mart violates the Fair Labor Standards Act by having minors work too late, during school hours, or for too many hours in a day and by having associates miss breaks and lose meals according to the Greenhouse article.


Health care

  • Its plan does not cover over 775,000 employees according to its own reports.
  • The health care coverage is statistically lower than the industry average according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust's 2004 report.
  • Waiting periods for associates are longer than the national average, while managers face no waiting period according to the Wal-Mart 2005 Associate Guide and the cited Kaiser report.
  • Its most affordable plan includes high deductibles that make it costly, especially for family plans, according to the Wal-Mart 2004 Associate Guide and UFCW analysis.
  • Wal-Mart admits public health care assistance is a “Better Value” despite $10 billion in profits, according the transcript of CEO Lee Scott's April 5, 2005 speech.
  • Premiums are increasing more rapidly than other employers', according to UFCW analysis of annual Wal-Mart Associate Guides and the Employer Health Benefits: 2004 Annual Survey by Kaiser.
  • Employees pay more for health care costs than those of other large companies, according to 5500 Filings and the Kaiser report*
  • Wal-Mart spends less on health care than industry and national averages, as reported in the Wall Street Journal by Bernard Wysocki, Jr. and Ann Zimmerman in their September 2003 page one article, “Wal-Mart Cost-Cutting Finds a Big Target in Health Benefits.”
  • Wal-Mart only spends 75 cents per hour per employee on health benefits, according to its 5500 Filings and annual report.
  • Wal-Mart increased advertising more than health care in 1995, 1996, 1997-1999, 2003 and 2004, according to its annual reports and 5500 filings.
  • One out of seven employees has no coverage, double the national average for large firms according to the annual report and to "Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage: Sponsorship, Eligibility, and Participation Patterns in 2001,” Bowen Garrett, Ph.D., released by the Kaiser Family Foundation September 2004.


Taxpayer costs

The group references two articles, “Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart," by the Democratic staff of the United States House Committee on Education and the Workforce published on February 16, 2004 and “Shopping For Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth,” by Good Job First in May 2004.

Criticism

An article in Las Vegas Weekly reports that as part of its Wake Up Wal-Mart campaign, the UFCW hired some protestors to stand outside a Nevada Wal-Mart and protest against it. According to the article, the UFCW was being hypocritical in several ways. In particular:

  • The protest workers were not unionized.
  • The UFCW paid the protesters less than Wal-Mart paid its employees. The UFCW paid the protestors $6.00 an hour. Meanwhile, the average Nevada Wal-Mart employee was paid $10.17 an hour.
  • The protesters did not have health insurance. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart provided its employees with health insurance. For example, the article mentioned a Wal-Mart employee whose husband received a liver transplant, and the $600,000 cost was paid for by their insurance policy.
  • The protesters were working outside in the hot sun where the temperature was 104 degrees. One of the protesters ended up suffering from heat stroke. Meanwhile, the Wal-Mart employees were working inside a cool, air conditioned environment.


See also



References

External links




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