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.
- Sarah Clark, Wal-Mart Spokesperson
Lee Scotts letter in response:
Thank you for your letter. We appreciate hearing from the religious leaders who do so much for the communities we serve. I personally appreciate that you’ve taken the time to try to get to the real truth, and admire your advocacy for the people that we mutually serve.
That said, I have to disagree with some of the assertions in your letter. The truth is, we do a great deal to improve the lives and situations of our associates and customers, and to contribute to the communities we serve.
And we’re succeeding. Every day, I hear from associates who are living better lives because Wal-Mart believed in them. Every day, Im reminded of the positive change that occurs because we support the charities and causes that make life better in the towns and cities we serve.
The money that we save our customers goes beyond finding a good value. I watch people at our checkouts, counting change out of pay envelopes, grateful that they can buy two loaves of bread at Wal-Mart for the price of one elsewhere.
I talk with young mothers who can send their children to school with dignity – in new clothes and with pencils and paper, because we’ve made these items affordable for them.
I talk with elderly people whose lower-priced Wal-Mart medications help them stretch their fixed incomes.
All of our customers rely on Wal-Mart to help them live more affordably, so that they can use their hard-earned money in other ways. And we deliver, by helping American families save $2,300 per household last year.
In fact, were told that we do more to help working families than any private or government program in America.
Our fundamental values of respect for individuals means that we work hard to help our associates believe in themselves and get on a path to a better life. Some of them are in their first jobs. Many never had the benefit of a college education. Many came from backgrounds with few opportunities to improve their lives. Some came to us after months or even years of unemployment.
We provide these associates the dignity of a job, paying an average of about $10 an hour, plus benefits.
More importantly, we provide a viable, proven way for associates to improve their lives. Three-quarters of our managers started in hourly jobs. We encouraged them to reach higher and provided the training and tools to help them do so. Today, they are living better lives, with a better future for their children, than might otherwise have been the case.
Like you, we are concerned about the number of our associates’ children who rely on public health programs. Even here, we’re making positive change with new health care programs that are already helping more associates get private health insurance, at a time when other companies are scaling back or dropping insurance all together.
Our programs in 2006 will have 70,000 additional associates in programs that start as low as $11 a month. All told, more than 1 million people will have health care coverage through Wal-Mart next year.
Much of this “good news” about Wal-Mart goes unreported. Fortunately, it does not go unappreciated. I hear often from associates, small business owners, community leaders and others, thanking Wal-Mart for making a positive difference in the lives of so many.
For that reason, we will not be deterred from our mission, despite misleading statements from paid critics whose motives are less than pure.
Wal-Mart will continue to do those things that we believe are right for our customers, associates and communities: helping people put food on the table and clothes on their backs; providing good benefits, providing career opportunity, and being a good citizen in the towns we serve.
Thank you for writing to us.