News and Updates
December 14, 2005
Washington, D.C. – The national momentum for WakeUpWalMart.com’s faith-based campaign grew again today with 13 Baptist Leaders of Faith launching a new initiative to pressure Wal-Mart to change into a more responsible and moral company. The letter released today once again called on CEO Lee Scott to change Wal-Mart into a moral company. The letter from the Baptist leaders states, “”as Christians, at the time of year when we celebrate the life, the birth and the teachings of Jesus, we call on Wal-Mart to change.”” The letter released today is the latest sign momentum is growing in the faith-based community to change Wal-Mart.
“”Once again the moral call for Wal-Mart to change grows louder. We can only hope Wal-Mart will hear our message of change, will change its immoral business practices, and will become a force for good this holiday season,”” stated Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
Today’s letter signed by Baptist leaders from Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Colorado, and Oklahoma, follows last Thursday’s launch of the “”Light a Candle for Change”” campaign. As part of this nation-wide campaign, faith-based leaders joined together to release an interfaith letter calling on Lee Scott to change, candlelight vigils were held in 27 cities in 20 states, and the “”Should People of Faith Shop At Wal-Mart?”” ad was released nationwide.
Since last Thursday, 13 additional leaders of faith from all across America have signed the interfaith letter sent to Lee Scott. In total, 93 leaders of faith, representing well over 1.3 million Americans, have joined together in this growing faith-based initiative to change Wal-Mart into a moral employer. In the letter released last week, the leaders of faith stated “”in the shared spirit of the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values.””
“”Lee Scott and Wal-Mart face a unique moment in their company’s history. Wal-Mart can embrace these moral calls for change from some of America’s most respected leaders of faith or they can continue down the dark path leading to the decline in its public image. We can only hope Wal-Mart will choose to do what is right this holiday season,”” added Paul Blank.
The overall goal of today’s letter and the “”Light A Candle for Change”” campaign is to change Wal-Mart into a responsible corporation that reflects the best moral values of our country. As part of the faith-based grassroots initiative, WakeUpWalMart.com also launched a coordinated online and TV multimedia campaign. The 30-second TV ad, titled “”People”” is the first TV advertisement to highlight Wal-Mart’s moral failures and raise the powerful question – “”Should People of Faith Shop at Wal-Mart?”” this holiday season.
The “”Light A Candle For Change”” campaign is the latest initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s leading grassroots movement to change Wal-Mart. WakeUpWalMart.com is America’s largest campaign to change Wal-Mart with over 150,500 supporters.
December 14, 2005
Rather than address the genuine moral concerns raised by 65 leaders of faith, Lee Scott chose to ignore their concerns, insult them, question their sincerity, and cite manufacturing job losses his company has helped to create. This holiday season, Lee Scott should look into the mirror and consider the millions of American businesses and manufacturing jobs he and his company’s business model have personally helped destroy, and hear the moral calls for change from leaders of faith. We can only hope that someday soon Lee Scott will finally – finally – do what is right for his workers, their families and America.
Lee Scott’s response to a letter by 65 religious leaders asking Wal-Mart to change:
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.
Lee Scott’s response to TV ad:
Surely many Americans are deeply offended that union leadership would use religion as just another tactic in the negative attack campaign against a company that donates more money to good works than any other company in America. And with all the news reports of manufacturers laying off tens of thousands of skilled union workers this Holiday Season, we’d hope the union leadership would show more compassion for its members rather than spending its member dues attacking a company that creates 100,000 jobs a year.
December 14, 2005
LEADERS OF FAITH CALL ON WAL-MART AND CEO LEE SCOTT TO “”CHANGE FOR THE BETTER”” THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Washington, D.C. – Leaders of faith representing over 1.3 million Americans have joined WakeUpWalMart.com in a nationwide initiative to call on Wal-Mart and CEO Lee Scott to “”change for the better”” this Holiday season. As part of this faith-based effort, 65 respected faith-based leaders signed a joint letter to Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, which states “”in the shared spirit of the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values.”” The letter to Lee Scott is part of a new faith-based grassroots and multimedia campaign, named “”Light a Candle for Change,”” launched by WakeUpWalMart.com.
“”This Holiday season, Wal-Mart, America’s largest employer, has the power to change, to become better, to reflect the best of our values. It is our sincere hope Wal-Mart will choose the higher road and become a moral example that all people of faith can embrace proudly,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
The goal of the “”Light A Candle for Change”” campaign is to change Wal-Mart into a responsible corporation that reflects the best moral values of our country. The letter to Lee Scott goes on to state “”there is no better present Wal-Mart could give to its workers, their families, and America than to change for the better this holiday season.”” As part of this new campaign, the families and children of supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com will also be holding local candlelight vigils at Wal-Marts in at least 27 cities in 19 different states, including Oregon, Kentucky, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Illinois.
“”Out of our religious heritage comes the recognition that we are not allowed to deprive people of their God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In this respect the Wal-Mart form of business represents plantation capitalism; the few become very wealthy and the many become poorer,”” stated Reverend James Lawson of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA.
The faith-based grassroots initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com will also include a coordinated online and TV multimedia campaign. The TV ad, titled “”People,”” is the first TV advertisement to highlight Wal-Mart’s moral failures and raise the powerful question – “”Should People of Faith Shop at Wal-Mart?”” this holiday season. The 30-second TV spot will be running in 6 states, including Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia. The ad can also be viewed at WakeUpWalMart.com.
A copy of the letter and the script for TV spot are attached.
The “”Light A Candle For Change”” campaign is the latest initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s leading grassroots movement to change Wal-Mart. WakeUpWalMart.com has over 148,000 members and supporters in all 50 states.
** Script of “”People”” **
Our faith teaches us
“”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you””
If these are our values, then ask yourself
Should people of faith shop at Wal-Mart this Holiday season?
When Wal-Mart repeatedly broke child labor laws.
Is being sued by 1.5 million women for discrimination.
And, over 600,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families have no company health care.
If these are Wal-Mart’s values
Should people of faith shop at Wal-Mart?
** Letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott **
Dear Mr. Scott,
The holiday season is a time to honor and remember the virtues of hope, love, joy, sharing, sacrifice, and faith. For people of all faiths, the celebration of the holiday season is a time to remember and embrace the best of our values. It is a time to reflect upon our lives, the impact we have on others, and the responsibility we all have to improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.
The prophet Moses in Deuteronomy 25:13-15 teaches “”Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy … lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.”” During this holy season, we must ask ourselves – at what moral price do we accept the sins of exploitation and greed? Sins, it is sad to say, which are exemplified by one of America’s largest and richest corporations, Wal-Mart.
Everyday, Wal-Mart’s so-called low prices come at a high cost to the moral virtues and greatness of your workers, our families, and our nation. Everyday, America pays too high a cost for Wal-Mart’s immoral business practices.
As all faiths teach us, the current exploitation of those who work to provide us with goods and services, whether at Wal-Mart or its suppliers, can never be morally justified. Under all conditions, it is simply immoral and wrong. It goes against the teachings of our spiritual leaders and our commitment to justice, fairness, and community.
If there is one shared hope all faiths have in common, it is the central belief that we must work together to improve the lives of others. This central tenet, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ is the bedrock of our values, our faith, our families and our communities.
Unfortunately, Wal-Mart needlessly ignores the Golden Rule putting our children and their workers needlessly at-risk.
Despite $10 billion in profit last year, more than 600,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families struggle with no company-provided health care. Even more troubling, nearly 1 out of every 2 children of Wal-Mart workers lives without health care or relies on a public program. Wal-Mart has repeatedly broken child labor laws. Wal-Mart is being sued by 1.5 million female employees for discrimination. And, Wal-Mart continues to pay poverty-level wages, forcing many of its workers to make the impossible choice between rent and health care.
It is hard to imagine why Wal-Mart would consciously choose to make 1.3 million workers suffer in the name of “”low prices,”” a suffering we can no longer let stand.
For those of us who are Christians, we celebrate the life, the birth and the teachings of Jesus, and we call on Wal-Mart to change. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we ask ourselves:
Would Jesus support the exploitation of so many for the profit of so few?
Would Jesus tolerate systematic discrimination against women?
Would Jesus stand by idly while thousands of children go without health care?
Would Jesus accept violations of child labor laws?
The answer is simple. Jesus would not embrace Wal-Mart’s values of greed and profits at any cost, particularly when children suffer as a result of those misguided values.
Those of us who are Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist also have scriptures that remind us that God is just and God’s servants must practice justice in all of our words and deeds. As we prepare to celebrate our own holiday traditions, we also ask ourselves, is it right to shop at Wal-Mart? Would our God want us to support Wal-Mart’s values and actions with our dollars?
We know Wal-Mart has the power to improve the lives of millions of workers, their families, and our communities. Wal-Mart can become, if you and the Walton Family so choose, a leading example of moral greatness in corporate America. You have the power to change and set an example that would truly honor and reflect the call of all faith traditions to righteousness and justice.
So beginning today, in the shared spirit of the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values. It is within your power to become a truly responsible, ethical, and righteous company.
In the end, there is no better present Wal-Mart could give to its workers, their families, and America than to change for the better this holiday season.
Reverend John H. Thomas, President, United Church of Christ
Reverend James Lawson, Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA
Kim Bobo, Executive Director, Interfaith Worker Justice
Bishop Gabino Zavala, Regional Bishop in the San Gabriel Pastoral Region (Archdiocese of Los Angeles, CA)
Reverend Doctor William Jarvis Johnson, Calvary CME Church of Pasadena, CA
Reverend Alexia Salvatierra, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)
Father Michael Pfleger, Faith Community of St. Sabina Parish, Chicago, Illinois.
Reverend Bennie E. Whiten, Jr., United Church of Christ
Retired Bishop Jesse DeWitt of the United Methodist Church
Reverend Mark Wendorf, McCormick Theological Seminary and Board Member of Interfaith Worker Justice
Professor William P. Quigley, Loyola University New Orleans School of Law and Board member of Interfaith Worker Justice
Dr. Edie Rasell of the Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ.
Reverend Ron Stief, Director of Washington, D.C. office, United Church of Christ
Pastor Sylvia Tucker, Union Baptist Church of Hopewell, VA
Mr. Ralph Ramirez, President of Richmond, VA Southern Council Leadership Conference Chapter
Reverend Rebekah Jordan, Mid-South Interfaith Network for Economic Justice
Reverend Sinclair Oubre, J.C.L. of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church of Port Arthur, TX
Reverend Doctor John J. O’Brien, C.P.
Reverend Bridgeforth, Shiloh Baptist Church, VA
Reverend King, Southern Council Leadership Conference of Danville, VA
Reverend Rufus Fuller II Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, VA
Reverend William Avon Keen of Traynham Grove Church,VA
Reverend John Snider, Saint Stephen’s Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, MN
Reverend Bill Bulson, Holy Apostles, MN
Reverend Timothy M Johnson, Cherokee Park United Church of St. Paul, MN
Reverend Johnathan C. Tetherly, Chaplain of Hampden County House of Corrections, MA
Father Thomas Mueller, S.S. Cyril & Methodist Orthodox Church, WI
Father Jerry Schroeder, St. Benedict the Moor Parish of Milwaukee, WI
Reverend Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, Good Sheperd Lutheran Church in Waukesha, WI
Reverend Kelly Fowler, First United Methodist Church of Waukesha, WI
Reverend Doctor Ronald Faust, Kansas City Interfaith Worker Justice, MO
Reverend Tom Blakley, Barry Christian Church, MO
Reverend Spencer Barrett, Co-chair, Kansas City Interfaith Worker Justice, MO
Pastor Robin Hood Senior Pastor, Redeemed Outreach Ministries, IL
Reverend Fr. Alfredo Gundrum , Pastor of St. Kevin, Chicago, IL
Reverend Jose Landaverde, Amor de Dios, United Methodist Church, IL
Reverend William F. Marx, Pax Christi of Western New York
Reverend Dan Schifeling, Church of Nativity, United Church of Christ
Sister Jean Sliwikski, Western New York Workers’ Rights Board
Reverend Suzelle Lynch, Unitarian Universalist Church, Brookfield WI
Reverend Doctor. Roland Womack, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, Progressive Baptist Church, Milwaukee, WI
Pastor Susan Burchfield, Immanuel Lutheran Church of Seattle, WA
Reverend Richard Vogel, Executive Pastor, St. James United Methodist Church, Kansas City, MO
Reverend Emanuel Cleaver II, St. James United Methodist Church of Kansas City, MO
Reverend Norman D. Copeland, AME Church, Los Angeles, CA
Reverend Calvin S. Morris, Ph.D. Executive Director Community Renewal Society of Chicago, IL
Reverend Jennifer Kottler, Protestants for the Common Good of Chicago, IL
Reverend Jon M. Luopa, Univeralist Unitarian Church of Seattle WA
Sisters of St Joseph of Springfield, MA Justice and Peace Committee
Reverend William F. Brisotti, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church, NY
Reverend Catherine Schulyer, Protestant Campus Ministry of Stony Brook, NY
Reverend Richard E. Edwards, Stony Brook Community Church, NY
Reverend Thomas W. Goodhue, Executive Director, The Long Island Council of Churches, NY
Reverend Paul Ratzlaff, The Unitarian Universalist of Fellowship of Huntington, NY
Sister Rosemary Everett, SNJM, Sisters of the Holy Names, CA
Father Bill Leininger, Human Concerns Commission, Diocese of San Jose, CA
Monsieur Gene Boyle, St. Thomas Aquinas of Palo Alto, CA
Reverend John Freesemann, Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church of San Jose, CA
Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash of Los Gatos, CA
Reverend Carol Been, The Interfaith Council of San Jose, CA
Ms. Mary Quinn Kambic, Catholic Labor Committee of Baltimore, MD
Ms. Evely Laser Shlensky, Board member, Executive Committee, Interfaith Worker Justice
Mr. Monroe B. Sullivan, National Board Member, Interfaith Worker Justice
Ms. Karen Herrling, Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network
Mr. Stephen Hand, Editor, Traditional Catholic Reflections
December 14, 2005
WASHINGTON—The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union—the nation’s largest poultry workers’ union—applauds efforts by House Democrats to protect front line poultry workers in the event of an outbreak of Avian Flu. This crucial legislation which addresses the needs to combat Avian Flu also contains language to convene a meeting of experts, representatives of the poultry industry, and representatives of poultry workers to evaluate the risk to poultry workers, the likelihood of transmission, and necessary measures to protect poultry workers from exposure.
The nation’s 200,000 poultry workers produce 500 million pounds of chicken every week. In the event of an outbreak of Avian Flu, we must have a plan to protect these workers—the chicken catchers and those that slaughter, process, and package the millions of chickens and turkeys that Americans eat each year.
To date, the Bush Administration has failed to include front line poultry workers in the discussion of the Avian Flu pandemic.
“Workers in America’s poultry industry would be the first to notice sick birds, the first to risk exposure to the deadly virus, and the first to sound the alarm. That’s like making poultry workers canaries in a mine—leaving them to contract the disease, suffer, and perhaps die as a warning of the coming pandemic,” said UFCW President Joe Hansen.
December 1, 2005
Washington, DC – The first national survey of public attitudes and opinions about Wal-Mart by Zogby International finds American adults hold an increasingly negative view of Wal-Mart. The poll found 38 percent, or nearly 4 in 10 Americans, hold an unfavorable opinion of Wal-Mart, and 46 percent of Americans believe Wal-Mart’s public image is worse than it was 1 year ago.
The poll found that 56 percent of American adults agreed with the statement – “”Wal-Mart was bad for America. It may provide low prices, but these prices come with a high moral and economic cost.”” In contrast, only 39 percent of American adults agreed with the opposing statement – “”I believe Wal-Mart is good for America. It provides low prices and saves consumers money every day.””
“”Despite two high-priced image makeovers, Wal-Mart’s public image is in a tailspin. Over the last year, Wal-Mart’s image has declined at an alarming rate with the American people. Unless Wal-Mart addresses these growing concerns, the company will face a mounting public backlash,”” stated Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
The Zogby poll, commissioned by WakeUpWalMart.com, was a national telephone survey of 1,012 adults conducted by Zogby International from 11/15/05 through 11/18/05 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.
The effect of the WakeUpWalMart.com campaign over the last year can be best assessed by comparing several questions from the new Zogby poll to results from a similar national poll conducted by Lake, Snell, Perry in January 2005.
Wal-Mart Overall Favorability
In terms of overall favorability, in the span of about 11 months, Wal-Mart experienced a decline of 18 percentage points in the number of American adults who view the company favorably. Most striking is a 15 percentage point decline in the number of Americans who hold a “”very favorable opinion.””
Jan 05 Nov 05 Difference
Very Favorable 45 30 -15
Somewhat Favorable 31 28 -3
Fav 76 58 -18
Somewhat Unfavorable 11 19 +8
Very Unfavorable 9 19 +10
Unfav 20 38 +18
No Opinion/Not sure 4 4 –
Wal-Mart Shopping Frequency
The Wal-Mart shopping frequency of American adults has also changed. A comparison of the two polls suggests a decrease of 18 percentage points among high frequency Wal-Mart shoppers (i.e. weekly and 1-2/ month), but an increase of 12 percent in the number of respondents who shop at Wal-Mart less frequently. Most interesting, there is a 5 percent increase in the number of American adults who choose not to shop at Wal-Mart. These results, however, do not directly impact Wal-Mart sales, as consumers who still choose to shop at Wal-Mart may have simply increased their overall values of their purchase.
Jan 05 Nov 05 Difference
Weekly 33 24 -9
1-2/Month 36 27 -9
Several times a year 13 16 +3
Hardly ever 11 20 +9
Never 8 13 +5
Wal-Mart Favorability Based on Recent Events
Recent news events are having an impact on Wal-Mart’s rising negative image. In asking people whether or not recent news events have altered their feelings of favorability/unfavorability towards Wal-Mart, there is a growing perception that Wal-Mart is less favorable. Since January 2005, 28 percent more American adults have heard, seen, or read something about Wal-Mart that makes them feel less favorable toward the company.
Jan 05 Nov 05 Difference
Much more favorable 10 11 +1
Somewhat more favorable 18 11 -7
More favorable 18 22 -6
Somewhat less favorable 13 29 +16
Much less favorable 14 26 +12
Less favorable 27 55 +28
No impact/not sure 43 24 –19
Wal-Mart’s Favorability & Public Image Compared to Competitors
In terms of favorability, Americans hold very different opinions of two of the largest retailers – Wal-Mart and Target. For example, 73 percent of respondents hold a favorable opinion of Target versus 13 percent who hold an unfavorable opinion, while 58 percent of respondents hold a favorable opinion of Wal-Mart versus 38 percent who hold an unfavorable opinion. And compared to one year ago, a large majority of Americans (65%) agree that Wal-Mart has a more negative public image now than compared to last year, while 28 percent disagreed. In contrast, and just as a baseline comparison, only 14 percent of Americans believe that Target’s public image is more negative, while 55 percent disagreed.
These results are more striking in light of the significant financial commitment by Wal-Mart over the last year to try and improve its public image.
America’s Wal-Mart Debate
The debate about whether or not Wal-Mart is good or bad for America is occurring. In a comparison of two statements, 56 percent of Americans agreed “”Wal-Mart is bad for America”” (statement B), with only 39 percent of Americans stating Wal-Mart is “”good for America”” (statement A).
Statement A – I believe that Wal-Mart is good for America. It provides low prices and saves consumers money every day.
Statement B – I believe that Wal-Mart is bad for America. It may provide low prices, but these prices come with a high moral and economic cost for consumers.
Further results indicate that 6 in 10 American adults believe Wal-Mart is seen as a retail monopoly that threatens the American economy, 61 percent of Americans are concerned that Wal-Mart is too powerful an economic force in America, and 63 percent of Americans agree that the impact of the Wal-Mart business model should be investigated by our nation’s elected political leaders.
Questions Referenced from Zogby Poll
I am going to read to you a list of stores. Please tell me if your overall opinion of each is very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or a very unfavorable.
1. Very favorable 34
2. Somewhat favorable 39
3. Somewhat unfavorable 7
4. Very unfavorable 6
5. NF/Not sure (do not read) 15
1. Very favorable 30
2. Somewhat favorable 28
3. Somewhat unfavorable 19
4. Very unfavorable 19
5. NF/Not sure (do not read) 4
In general, thinking back on what you have recently seen, heard or read about Wal-Mart in the last few months, does it make you much more favorable, somewhat more favorable, somewhat less favorable, or much less favorable toward Wal-Mart?
1. Much more favorable 11
2. Somewhat more favorable 11
3. Somewhat less favorable 29
4. Much less favorable 26
5. Not sure (Do not read) 24
In general, based on what you have recently seen, heard, or read about Wal-Mart, do you believe Wal-Mart’s public image is much better, slightly better, slightly worse, much worse, or about the same than it was 1 year ago?
1. Much better 5
2. Slightly better 7
3. Slightly worse 28
4. Much worse 18
5. About the same 37
6. Not sure (Do not read) 5
Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree that Wal-Mart has a more negative public image now than compared to last year?
1. Strongly agree 36
2. Somewhat agree 29
3. Somewhat disagree 17
4. Strongly disagree 11
5. Not sure (Do not read) 7
Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree that Target has a more negative public image now than compared to last year?
1. Strongly agree 4
2. Somewhat agree 10
3. Somewhat disagree 27
4. Strongly disagree 28
5. Not sure (Do not read) 31
Wal-Mart is America’s largest employer with 1.3 million workers, 3700 stores, 289 billion dollars in sales, and $10 billion dollars in profits. Are you very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not all concerned that Wal-Mart is too powerful an economic force in America?
1. Very concerned 33
2. Somewhat concerned 30
3. Not too concerned 15
4. Not all concerned 20
5. Not sure (Do not read) 2
Do you, personally, strongly agree, somewhat agree, or do not agree at all that Wal-Mart is a retail monopoly that threatens the future health of the American economy?
1. Strongly agree 33
2. Somewhat agree 28
3. Don’t agree at all 35
4. Not sure (Do not read) 5
Some critics suggest Wal-Mart is having a negative social and economic effect on the country, others argue Wal-Mart has a positive social and economic effect. Do you, personally, strongly agree, somewhat agree, or do not agree at all that our nation’s elected political leaders should investigate the effects Wal-Mart is having on the American economy and society?
1. Strongly agree 34
2. Somewhat agree 28
3. Don’t agree at all 34
4. Not sure (Do not read) 4
November 29, 2005
If a bird flu pandemic were to break out in the United States, workers in America’s poultry industry would be the first to notice sick birds, the first to risk exposure to the deadly virus, and the first to sound the alarm. That’s why the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has sent a letter to President Bush urging him to initiate coordinated protection for poultry workers on the front lines by initiating a Cabinet-level meeting to discuss worker issues and the potential pandemic.
The poultry industry is a major force in the U.S. economy, generating more than $35 billion per year in revenue. The nation’s 200,000 poultry workers produce 500 million pounds of chicken every week. We must have a plan to protect these workers-the chicken catchers and those that slaughter, process, and package the millions of chickens and turkeys that Americans eat each year.
The Bush administration has taken the first, important steps in containing a potential outbreak of bird flu by discussing and planning the control of the virus at its source-in animals.
However, if we are to avoid a pandemic, America’s plan to contain the bird flu must have a worker component. The Bush administration should consider:
–Direct contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces and objects is considered the main route of human infection. This kind of direct contact is the norm for workers in the poultry industry. A poultry worker immunization program will prevent the spread of the disease and assure the public that a meaningful step has been taken to contain the disease at its source.
–Poultry workers are in the best position to visually identify sick birds and report suspected cases of bird flu. These front line workers are the nation’s best defense against a pandemic, but they will need whistleblower protections in order to avoid discrimination and to assure that profit doesn’t override health and safety.
–Many immigrant, undocumented, or Spanish-speaking poultry workers are unaware of workplace safety regulations. This population is unlikely to ask for safety and health protections such as respirators or flu shots. Unfortunately, a recent sting operation where ICE agents posed as OSHA officials has hurt the credibility of government safety programs and further increased immigrants’ mistrust of government. We must reach out to these workers with health and safety information and we must strictly enforce a policy that prohibits sting operations that undermine OSHA credibility.
These worker issues are of paramount importance. Worker organizations, like unions, should be consulted and integrated into the effort. The UFCW stands ready to work with all interested stakeholders, including worker representatives, government agencies, and poultry companies.
November 22, 2005
WakeUpWalMart.com Supporters to Distribute 1 Million ‘Wal-Mart Consumer Alert’ Flyers Beginning on ‘Black Friday’
Washington, D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com and the National Consumers League sent a joint letter to Attorneys General in all 50 states calling on them to launch a full-scale investigation into Wal-Mart’s pricing practices based on the findings of two newly released studies conducted by the University of Illinois-Chicago Center for Urban Economic Development and the University of California-Berkeley.
The two studies examined the pricing accuracy, the difference between the shelf-price and the cash register price, at Wal-Mart stores in California, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana and concluded the pricing errors at Wal-Mart stores in these 4 states failed to meet the federal standards set by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). The federal standard, set by the NIST, requires no more than 2 out 100 randomly selected items from any one store may be incorrectly priced.
The study found that almost 85% of the Wal-Mart stores in the IL, MI & IN study failed to meet the federal standard for pricing errors. In California, the results were worse with almost 87% of Wal-Mart stores failing to meet the federal standard for pricing accuracy.
In Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, Wal-Mart charged the wrong price for 6.4% of the items purchased statewide for the survey, and in California, 8.3% of the items purchased statewide.
“”Wal-Mart customers beware. Consumers shouldn’t have to gamble with the price they pay at Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart has been charging customers the wrong price by failing to meet the federal pricing standard in four of the largest states in the nation. Wal-Mart customers have a right to know whether or not they are paying the wrong price,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
In the letter to the Attorneys General, the National Consumers League and WakeUpWalMart.com suggest ways Wal-Mart could correct this potential pricing problem, including: requiring Wal-Mart to post notices at each register warning customers that they may be overcharged; requiring Wal-Mart to hire enough employees to accurately price merchandise; requiring each Wal-Mart store to hire an employee solely responsible to ensure accurate pricing; and require item pricing in its stores.
“”On behalf of all consumers, especially as we enter the Holiday shopping season, we are calling on every state to immediately investigate Wal-Mart’s pricing and scanner practices and to take appropriate action to fix this potential problem. At least in the four states studied, Wal-Mart may need to change its slogan to ‘Sometimes Low Prices’ if you are lucky,”” added Blank.
Both studies came to the following conclusion, “”A majority of Wal-Mart stores tested in this evaluation of price accuracy demonstrated errors in pricing that exceeded federally accepted standards for large retail establishments.”” In fact, 63% of the surveyed stores in California were exceeding the federal standard just based on their overcharging of customers. Furthermore, accounting for the margin of error, between 75% and 94% of Wal-Mart stores in the 3 Midwest states are failing to meet federal standards for price accuracy.
The results of the studies raise serious concerns nationally given Wal-Mart’s top-down, centralized control by its corporate headquarters in Bentonville, AR.
In addition to releasing the study, supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s largest grassroots campaign to change a corporation with over 130,000 supporters, will be mobilizing an unprecedented grassroots campaign to inform consumers about Wal-Mart’s pricing errors. Beginning on November 25th, the traditional kick-off to the Holiday shopping season, supporters will be taking part in a national consumer alert campaign with actions in 36 states and 102 cities. WakeUpWalMart.com plans to distribute more than 1 million ‘Wal-Mart Consumer Alert’ flyers and launch a multimedia effort to inform American consumers about the pricing errors found in these four states.
Statement by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan:
“”I am very concerned about the scanning error rate for Wal-Mart as reported in the study by the University of Illinois at Chicago. My staff and I are taking a close look at these findings,”” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “”As we enter the busiest shopping season of the year, this study is a glaring reminder that all consumers must pay close attention to the pricing screen at checkout. If you think you have been overcharged, you should complain immediately to store personnel. Consumers may also complain directly to my office at 1-800-243-0618.””
Statement by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
“”This data shows serious discrepancies between the prices posted and the amounts actually charged – meriting prompt investigation -because Wal-Mart has a legal obligation to be always accurate, not always low,”” Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. “”Nothing is more fundamental to fair pricing than keeping promises about prices. Consumers should be spared a sweepstakes system when they come to the cash register. They deserve reliable, rock-solid price guarantees. The price they are given should be the price they are charged.
“”I will take appropriate action to protect consumers and assure the integrity of Wal-Mart’s prices if my investigation uncovers unacceptable price inaccuracies in Connecticut.””
November 21, 2005
Union Members Join Citizens’ Health Care Working Group in First National Dialogue on Health Care in a Decade
(Washington, DC) Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) announced a national effort to engage its 1.4 million members in the first national dialogue on health care reform in a decade. UFCW members are joining the Citizen’s Health Care Working Group by speaking up—online, at community meetings and in their workplaces—about the needs of working families in the health care system.
The Working Group, created by Congress in 2003, is mandated with engaging the public in a nationwide discussion of options for reforming America’s crumbling health care system. To carry out that mission, citizens are encouraged to fill out an online survey and participate in a series of community meetings scheduled over the next several months in localities across the nation.
“Lawmakers and policy experts need to hear directly from working people and ordinary citizens about the reality of health care in their daily lives,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President and member of the 14-person Working Group. “The Working Group’s most important task is to facilitate and encourage every American to take advantage of this unique opportunity to help lawmakers understand the views of ordinary people on how to make quality, accessible, and cost-efficient health care available to every American.”
As part of this initiative, the UFCW has launched a website: www.ufcw4healthcare.orgfor its 1.4 million members to fill out the Citizens Health Care Working Group’s health care survey. The union is reaching out to other labor organizations to encourage participation by their members. And as meeting sites and dates are determined, the UFCW will mobilize UFCW members—including their friends and family—to attend the community meetings occurring in their areas.
UFCW members are acutely aware of the many problems with our current health care system. Union members have been forced to organize community support, mobilize their workplaces and walk picket lines in order to fight back against employer demands to slash or reduce health care for workers and their families. The national health care crisis cannot be solved at the bargaining table or on the picket line—it requires a national solution. Now, union members are prepared to help shape that solution.
“Our members have first-hand knowledge of the pitfalls of our current health care system—whether soaring costs or access to quality care—and they have valid ideas for making the system work better for all Americans,” said Hansen. “We have every intention of ensuring that their concerns and ideas receive the full weight of their due in the final recommendations prepared by the Working Group.”
Hansen is the only representative on the fourteen-member The Citizen’s Health Care Working Group from a worker organization.
November 15, 2005
WAL-MART VS. AMERICA NEWSPAPER AD OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES WAKEUPWALMART.COM’S EFFORTS DURING NATIONAL WEEK OF ACTION
Nov. 14 – Washington, D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, announced the launch of the next phase of its media campaign and its activities during Wal-Mart Week. This week, hundreds of thousands of Americans will take part in local movie screenings of Robert Greenwald’s new movie – Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. WakeUpWalMart.com also announced it has surpassed more than 125,000 Americans in all 50 states – making it one of the fastest growing social movements in America.
“”This is not just the beginning of a campaign, it is the beginning of a national movement. Wal-Mart’s record of poverty level wages, unaffordable health care and child labor violations undermines American values. When the American people know the truth, they will reject Wal-Mart’s bad business practices and join our movement to make Wal-Mart a responsible corporation,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
The message of today’s New York Times ad, and the framework for the week, is “”Wal-Mart vs. America.”” The ad shows a map of the United States being pulled apart by Wal-Mart’s Smiley Face on one side and Uncle Sam on the other side. It details the difference between Wal-Mart’s America and Our America on issues such as: poverty level wages, poor health care, gender discrimination, special interest lobbyists and child labor. The ad, also, previews upcoming events during Wal-Mart Week, stating, “”This week, in cities and towns all across the nation, hundreds of thousands of Americans are standing up to corporate greed and demonstrating the amazing power all Americans have to change Wal-Mart and America for the better.””
“”We are building the largest, most coordinated campaign in history to change Wal-Mart. With more than 125,000 supporters, in all 50 states, WakeUpWalMart.com is an unprecedented grassroots effort to educate consumers about the high cost we all pay for Wal-Mart’s greed,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com
During Wal-Mart Week, WakeUpWalMart.com supporters will hold screenings in over 140 cities and 35 states. In total, supporters of the campaign and Robert Greenwald’s movie have planned over 4000 screenings during this week of action.
WakeUpWalMart.com is building the largest grassroots movement to change a corporation in history. With over 125,000 supporters, WakeUpWalMart.com is one of the fastest growing social movements in America. Find out more about the campaign at www.WakeUpWalMart.com.
November 14, 2005
Justices Agree to End the Workplace Rip-off
(Washington, DC) – Meatpacking, poultry and food processing workers finally have the backing and protection of the highest court in the land. Today, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the position long held by workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – that employers must pay workers for time spent obtaining required safety equipment and reporting to their work location in the plant. The UFCW has advocated for decades that all required time is paid time.
For far too long, employers have cheated workers out of their full paycheck by refusing to pay them for the time it takes to pick up their required safety equipment such as chain mail gloves, hair nets, aprons and heavy boots. Meat industry giants like Tyson Foods, which owns IBP, have long insisted that workers paid time does not include as much as thirty to forty minutes per day spent collecting and putting on their gear and walking to their station on the production line.
Today, the Supreme Court justices unanimously agreed that workers deserve to be paid for that time. In reality, the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court had to rule on such a case speaks volumes about the greed and arrogance of employers in this country. It wasn’t enough to cheat workers out of their wages, the meat packing industry fought for the right to continue its rip-off all the way to the highest court.
The time has finally come for the hundreds of thousands of workers to receive their rightfully due wages when they report for duty in America’s food industry workplaces. Today’s court ruling is a tremendous victory for workers.