Wal-Mart Wide Awake; Responds to UFCW's "Wake-Up Wal-Mart" Smear Campaign

BENTONVILLE, Ark., June 1, 2005 ---  “Wake Up Wal-Mart,” a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)-funded campaign against Wal-Mart, is scheduled to hold press conferences in selected states on Wednesday. The speakers are said to be addressing Wal-Mart’s health care plan and issues surrounding public assistance.

Below is a statement which may be attributed to Susan Chambers, Executive Vice President of Benefits Administration, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.:

“Some of our critics are open-minded people who are genuinely concerned about issues and want to make the world a better place. We listen and learn and try to work with them toward common goals. Today’s events are nothing more than a publicity stunt by “Wake-Up Wal-Mart,” which is funded entirely by the UFCW, and are designed to further their own narrow self-interests.

“The health care issue is much broader than Wal-Mart. Our nation – including large and small employers – faces a health care crisis. Maliciously targeting one company doesn’t address this issue. It doesn’t provide one person with insurance or take one person off the list of America’s uninsured. It doesn’t offer solutions.

“Here are some facts about our health care plan:

  • “Wal-Mart associates are entitled to go to the best medical facilities in the world and get the highest quality care.
  • “Wal-Mart offers eight different options within the Associates Medical Plan to meet the medical and financial needs of our associates. Premiums start at less than $40 per month for single coverage and less than $155 per month for family coverage. In some states, we also offer HMO’s to associates as yet another health insurance option.
  • “Both full and part-time associates are eligible for coverage.
  • “Many plans stop paying after the medical bills go higher than a million dollars. Wal-Mart’s plan has no lifetime cap on most expenses, protecting our associates from financial ruin.
  • “Wal-Mart is currently looking into additional options that provide associates a wider range of offerings, including Health Savings Accounts beginning next year.

“Now, in regards to the myths about Wal-Mart and public assistance health care:

  • “We estimate Wal-Mart has taken 160,000 people off the list of America’s uninsured.
  • “In December, The Segmentation Company conducted a survey of our associates The study showed that 7 percent of hourly store associates were on Medicaid three months before joining Wal-Mart, but that number dropped to 5 percent once they join. After two years of employment, it drops to 3 percent.

“We will be the first to acknowledge that healthcare is a tough issue, for us and for the country. Wal-Mart will continue to work with state legislators and the Congress to develop sensible, workable solutions to address America’s health care challenges.”

- Susan Chambers

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