May 8, 2007

Washington DC—Wal-Mart must go beyond public posturing and change its corporate practices before it can have any credibility in the national debate on healthcare reform.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) has long been a supporter of universal, affordable and quality health care coverage for all Americans.   And we believe that a broad-based effort of all Americans is fundamental to achieving that goal. We are actively working with committed members of the business community, lawmakers, advocacy groups and other unions to solve our country’s health care crisis.

Wal-Mart’s attempt to insert itself into the healthcare care debate fuels the kind of cynicism and mistrust that that comes out of the say-one-thing-but-do-another form of public discourse from powerful interests—whether in the corporate or political arena.

Only last week, the internationally acclaimed Human Rights Watch issued a comprehensive indictment of the giant retailer, citing Wal-Mart with systematically violating the human and civil rights of Wal-Mart workers.

It’s difficult to see how the world’s largest corporation can have any moral standing in the effort to establish universal health care when it doesn’t provide affordable health care benefits to its own employees.

Wal-Mart should be a leader in corporate responsibility—instead the company’s business practices encourage other employers to act irresponsibly.

American workers deserve better than Wal-Mart posturing. They deserve universal healthcare. Engaged and committed members of the business community must be a part of any solution to our country’s health care crisis, and the UFCW will work with them and all other committed stakeholders to achieve that end.

In the meantime, we will continue our fight for good health care benefits for workers at the bargaining table. And we will continue our efforts on behalf of Wal-Mart workers so they can have affordable healthcare benefits and good wages.