February 23, 2006
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.””