Home News Wal-Mart Makes Contribution to Oppose California Proposition 72 'Health Tax'

Wal-Mart Makes Contribution to Oppose California Proposition 72 'Health Tax'

October 28, 2004 BENTONVILLE, Ark. (October 26, 2004) Ð Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT) today announced it is making a significant contribution to Californians Against Government Run Health Care, a coalition of employers, local governments, law enforcement agencies, school districts and medical groups, in addition to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, fighting Proposition 72. With this contribution of a half-million dollars, Wal-Mart joins the broad-based coalition in opposing a proposition that would hurt California businesses and their employees.Wal-Mart previously made the decision to stay out of this issue, but with false accusations being levied against the company, the company says it was forced to defend itself."The proposition’s supporters are running a new multi-million dollar television ad campaign that unfairly targets Wal-Mart, so we had no choice but to get involved," explained Cynthia Lin, Wal-Mart’s communications director for California. "The ads attempt to make Wal-Mart a scapegoat, claiming we do not provide affordable health care. These are outright lies, and voters deserve far better than that." Wal-Mart currently offers medical coverage to both full- and part-time employees. In addition to medical and dental care, the company also provides benefits like a profit sharing and 401(k) plan, performance-based bonuses, life insurance and merchandise discounts. "Wal-Mart believes employers should provide quality health care coverage to their employees, and we do," said Lin. "We offer a wide choice of affordable health care options to both full- and part-time employees in California and across the country."In California, nearly two-thirds of Wal-Mart’s eligible full-time hourly employees are enrolled in Wal-Mart’s health care plan. Company employees can obtain health insurance for as little as $15.25 bi-weekly for individual coverage and $66.25 bi-weekly for family coverage. Full-time hourly associates have waiting periods for health care coverage that range from three to six months. Wal-Mart’s waiting periods for medical coverage are comparable to other national retailers. In addition, Wal-Mart is one of the few retail companies that offer benefits to part-time employees. A study referenced in these misleading ads was conducted by UC Berkeley’s Labor Center, which has strong ties to organized labor and which receives funding from unions. Wal-Mart criticized the biased study, noting Berkeley’s Labor Center did not even contact the company for facts and statistics. In addition, Wal-Mart disputed the study’s findings and stated it does not encourage its employees to apply for public assistance. Unlike proponents of Proposition 72, Wal-Mart believes that a mandated "one-size-fits-all" health care approach may not be right for every company or employee. Wal-Mart believes companies should have the opportunity to provide benefit choices that both they and their employees can afford. The company also pointed out that organized labor, which is behind the recent attacks on Wal-Mart’s health care policies, has exempted itself from the requirements of Proposition 72. This legislation would make California the only state in the nation to burden businesses and their employees with an expensive new health care tax at a time when many struggling businesses are just starting to rebound from the weakened economy.Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAM’S CLUBS in the United States. Internationally, the company operates in Puerto Rico, Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina and South Korea. The company’s securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT. Last year, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., contributed more than $150 million to support communities and local non-profit organizations. Customers and associates raised an additional $70 million at stores and clubs.