October 21, 2011

Statement by UFCW President Joe Hansen on Walmart

(Washington, D.C.) — The following is a statement from UFCW International President Joseph T. Hansen on Walmart’s plan to roll back health care coverage for part time workers:

“”Walmart’s plan to roll back health care coverage for part-time workers and raise premiums for full-time employees should set off alarm bells for American workers. This lowering of working standards will have repercussions throughout the retail industry—particularly for part-time workers.

“”Retail jobs are the jobs of the future. In fact, retail is one of the only sectors of our economy that’s growing. Many of those jobs will be part-time. Much like manufacturing once did, retail jobs will define how it is to live and work in America in the 21st Century. It’s critically important that retail employers compensate their workers with pay and benefits that allow them to live in the middle class.

“”That’s why retail workers have been sticking together in their union for decades. Together in the UFCW, they’ve bargained good health care coverage for more part-timers than any other union. In doing so, they’ve brought up the economic standards for hundreds of thousands of workers, their families, and communities.

“”Yet today, many retail workers are forced to work two or more jobs to make ends meet, partly due to the fact that companies are moving to a part-time model. Outside of companies where workers have a union voice on the job, most retail part-time jobs do not come with the benefits that workers need to take care of their families. So, despite working multiple jobs, many workers must rely on government health care or go without.

“”As the largest retail employer in the country, Walmart could – and should – lead the way in making sure that retail jobs are good jobs—the kind that come with good benefits and wages for all workers. That’s why for years, the UFCW has fought to change companies like Walmart and push them to be more responsible employers. A few years ago, when the public learned that many of its workers were on Medicaid because they could not afford the company’s health care plan or did not qualify to be on it, the UFCW and our community partners pressured Walmart to make a commitment to expand their health care coverage for part time workers.

“”But it looks like Walmart is once again succumbing to corporate greed, and putting profits ahead of people. The Waltons are one of the wealthiest families in the country; they own the largest corporation in America, and that means they have a responsibility to provide good jobs and help shore up our middle class – not take advantage of the economic crisis. We at the UFCW call on the Waltons and Walmart to provide good jobs with affordable health care benefits for part-timers and full-timers alike. It’s the right thing to do for the future of our economy, our country, and our communities.””