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November 4, 2005

WAKEUPWALMART.COM LAUNCHES WAL-MART WORKERS OF AMERICA (WWOA), THE FIRST NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR WAL-MART WORKERS

50 UNINSURED WAL-MART WORKERS WILL QUALIFY
FOR $200 HEALTH CARE GRANTS

Washington, DC – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart, officially launched the Wal-Mart Workers of America (WWOA) – the first national association for Wal-Mart workers.  WWOA is a new and exciting step to help empower Wal-Mart Workers to join together in order to improve their working conditions, their lives and change Wal-Mart into a more responsible and moral corporation. WWOA is launching a new website, www.WalMartWorkersofAmerica.com, which will offer a national clearing house of information and services for former and current Wal-Mart workers.

As part of the initial launch of the association, the WWOA will also offer 50 uninsured Wal-Mart workers the opportunity to qualify for $200 in health care money.  The health care assistance offered by the WWOA is the product of over $10,000 raised by more than 100 grassroots Halloween fundraisers held by WakeUpWalMart.com supporters last week in 84 cities and 22 states.

“Everyday 1.3 million workers help make Wal-Mart one of America’s most profitable companies, and yet, everyday it seems Wal-Mart finds new ways to exploit these hard-working Americans.  WWOA will be a powerful tool to help Wal-Mart’s workers join together to improve their lives and make Wal-Mart change for the better,” said Paul Blank, Campaign Director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

The WWOA is being founded in response to Wal-Mart’s secret memo and the company’s troubling record of exploiting its workers. Wal-Mart’s secret memo, written by Wal-Mart Executive Vice President Susan Chambers, outlines a series of shocking recommendations, including: plans to cut costs further by reducing hours; shifting from full-time to part-time workers; pushing out senior workers; and, even cutting health care costs by dissuading unhealthy or obese people from applying. In addition, Wal-Mart has a long and well-documented record of exploiting its workers, including forcing them to work off-the-clock, discriminating against female employees and breaking child labor laws.  Both the Wal-Mart Memo and its unwillingness to substantively change how it treats its workers has led to the creation of the Wal-Mart Workers of America.

The WWOA will officially launch its first membership drive today and plans to reach out to 100,000 Wal-Mart workers within the first phase of its membership drive.  Workers will be contacted through grassroots actions and through a community-based radio and print advertising campaign.

“For the first time, all Wal-Mart workers will now have the ability to join an association, to join together, to empower each other, and to build a movement for Wal-Mart to change. Working together, Wal-Mart workers can be a new and powerful force for change. Let there be no doubt, the WWOA will finally create a ‘real open door’ for change – a door Wal-Mart will never be able to close,” said Blank

Membership to WWOA is free to all former and current Wal-Mart workers who wish to join. The WWOA will provide an array of services to members including: how to qualify for health care money; a free 1-800# help hotline to provide advice and consultation about work place issues; information about class-action lawsuits affecting Wal-Mart workers; a confidential way to be a whistleblower; information and facts about their labor rights under state and federal law; how to defend themselves under America’s labor laws; a central clearing house for recent news and stories about Wal-Mart; recent actions in the grassroots campaign to change Wal-Mart; email updates on Wal-Mart and the WWOA; and quarterly newsletters.

October 31, 2005

WakeUpWalMart.com Launches Nation’s First Campaign about the Movie & Secret Memo Walmart Does Not Want You to See

TV AD TO AIR IN NEW YORK CITY, WASHINGTONDC METRO, LOS ANGELES AND LITTLE ROCK; NATIONAL PRINT AD IN USATODAY TO REACH OVER 2 MILLION READERS; AND INTERNET CAMPAIGN WILL TARGET OVER 19 WEBSITES WITH A REACH OF 17 MILLION READERS.

Washington, DC – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com launched the nation’s first advertising and multi-media campaign about “the movie and the memo Wal-Mart does not what you to see.” As part of this national media effort, the group will run a full-page ad in Monday’s edition of USA Today, internet ads on 19 sites with over 17 million readers, and a 30-second TV Ad, entitled “High Cost.”

“America will be shocked when they learn the truth about Wal-Mart as seen in the new film – Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. Our new multimedia campaign is just the beginning of our national movement to expose the truth about the high cost of shopping at Wal-Mart,” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

WakeUpWalMart.com’s nationwide media campaign is the first national TV, print, and online media campaign launched in the fight to change Wal-Mart.  The media campaign, beginning Monday, Oct. 31st, will highlight ‘Wal-Mart’s Secret Memo’ that is shocking the nation and the Robert Greenwald documentary: “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.”   The 30-second television commercial was produced by Joe Trippi – Democratic strategist and former presidential campaign manager for Howard Dean.

The full-page USA TODAY ad encourages all Americans to visit WakeUpWalMart.com to see the commercial for the Wal-Mart movie and to get their copy of ‘Wal-Mart’s Secret Memo.’

The launch of the national media campaign follows a successful weekend of activities in 84 cities and 22 states highlighting Wal-Mart’s health care crisis and distributing out the internal memo shocking the nation.  Following the release of WakeUpWalMart.com’s ‘Six Demands for Change’ to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, the organization has surpassed 112,000 supporters in all 50 states — making WakeUpWalMart.com the nation’s largest effort to change a corporation in history.

October 28, 2005

WAKEUPWALMART.COM LAUNCHES NATION’S FIRST HALLOWEEN FUNDRAISING DRIVE TO HELP WAL-MART WORKERS PAY FOR HEALTH CARE

Washington, D.C. – WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s leading campaign to change Wal-Mart, will hold an unprecedented series of public actions around Wal-Mart locations all across America as part of the “”Nothing’s Scarier than Not Having Health Care”” campaign. From October 28th-31st, supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com will hold the nation’s first Halloween fundraising drive to help uninsured Wal-Mart workers and will distribute flyers about the shocking “”Secret Wal-Mart memo”” that was revealed by the New York Times. The public actions led by local supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com will be occurring in 84 cities and 26 states.

“”It is a national tragedy that Wal-Mart, a company with $10 billion dollars in profits, has such poor health care benefits that 1 out of every 2 children of Wal-Mart workers either has no health insurance or relies on a public program. In fact, as Wal-Mart’s internal memo proves, this company is determined to cut its health care costs by shifting more workers to part-time, making it more expensive for spouses and even not hiring unhealthy or obese workers. Our hope is that through the generous donations of the American people, we can help at least a few Wal-Mart workers have the health care they deserve and need,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s campaign to change Wal-Mart.

Supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com will also be distributing the highlights of Wal-Mart’s shocking secret memo authored by Executive Vice President Susan Chambers. The memo outlines the company’s frightening plans to use more part-time workers instead of full-time workers, to push spouses of workers off Wal-Mart’s health care plan through higher premiums, and to try to dissuade “”unhealthy”” people from seeking jobs at Wal-Mart. The memo states that executives enthusiastically embraced these recommendations.

“”Wal-Mart’ Secret Memo proves that Wal-Mart views its workers as if they were cattle – to be weighed, aged, and disregarded if they don’t meet its vision of “”healthy”” or cost the company too much. Wal-Mart’s proposed plan would rob workers of their human dignity and sets a dangerous precedent for all of corporate America,”” added Blank.

At today’s actions, supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com, many in costumes, will receive donations in support of Wal-Mart workers who do not have health care. Similar Halloween candy fundraising drives are being held in 84 cities. As part of the effort to highlight how serious the “”Wal-Mart health care crisis”” is, WakeUpWalMart.com supporters also distributed tens of thousands of flyers to the public and Wal-Mart customers highlighting the “”scary facts”” about Wal-Mart’s poor health care record.

The Halloween fundraising drive is the latest grassroots effort by WakeUpWalMart.com to change Wal-Mart into a responsible corporation. Following the release of WakeUpWalMart.com’s ‘Six Demands for Change’ the organization surpassed 112,000 supporters in all 50 states – making WakeUpWalMart.com the nation’s largest grassroots effort to change a corporation in history.

In the coming weeks, WakeUpWalMart.com, and other organizations, will help organize “”Wal-Mart Week”” – an unprecedented national week of action from November 13th-19th, beginning with the national release of the movie by Robert Greenwald, “”Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.”” During this week, WakeUpWalMart.com and a broad coalition of partners from all across America will be raising public awareness about the growing negative effects Wal-Mart has on their workers, the community, and the nation.

October 26, 2005

WalMart Memo: Unhealthy People Need Not Apply and 46% of WalMart Employees’ Children Without Health Care or on Medicaid

“”An internal Wal-Mart memo, released by the New York Times this morning, exposes what a farce the last two days have been.   Wal-Mart’s CEO had the gall to come out this week and try to spin Wal-Mart as a company changing.  Wal-Mart is not a company trying to change.  Today’s memo proves Wal-Mart’s announcements are nothing more than a publicity stunt by exposing the truth behind Wal-Mart’s culture of greed and moral corruption.

The memo, authored by Susan Chambers, Executive Vice President for Benefits, robs Wal-Mart workers of their human dignity and instead treats them like products in their stores.   It is simply appalling that Wal-Mart’s senior management would actually write a memo suggesting not to hire certain workers because they may be unhealthy or obese.

Most startlingly, Wal-Mart, for the first time, admitted there is a Wal-Mart health care crisis in America.  The memo specifically states, ‘Wal-Mart has a significant percentage of associates and their children on public assistance.’  In fact, Wal-Mart revealed 46% of the children of Wal-Mart employees are either uninsured or on taxpayer funded public health care programs.  No wonder Wal-Mart so vehemently opposes legislators’ efforts to expose the truth about the true cost of the Wal-Mart economy.  It is inexcusable and unconscionable for a company, with $10 billion in profits, to know 1 out of every 2 of their employees’ children has no health care or is forced to rely on our public safety net and do nothing about it.

The key question becomes: What else does Wal-Mart know and when will they reveal it?   Wal-Mart’s great American deception of the past two days will not stand and Lee Scott ought to be ashamed of himself for perpetuating such a fraudulent image to the American people.””

October 25, 2005

Statement by Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com on Lee Scott’s Speech this Morning.

Today, Wal-Mart stole a move directly out of Karl Rove’s playbook. Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of deception before. Just like Karl Rove, Wal-Mart pursues morally corrupt policies that hurt America.

Today’s announcements by Wal-Mart are nothing more than a desperate publicity stunt to try and save a company being hurt by a faltering public image. Rather than address the fundamental reasons Wal-Mart is hurting America, Wal-Mart has decided to launch a series of cleverly named initiatives to try and deceive the American public.

Here is the truth about the Wal-Mart fraud on the key issues of poverty-level wages and poor health insurance.

Poverty-level wages. Wal-Mart says it wants to help wages, but Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott admits in the New York Times that Wal-Mart will do nothing to address its poverty level wages. Scott said, “”Even slight overall adjustments to wages eliminate our thin profit margin.””

Poor health care. Wal-Mart says it is offering cheaper health care, but Wal-Mart admitted today that there would be no significant cost increase because of this proposal. The truth is Wal-Mart’s health care announcements are just a repackaging of the same poor health care plan that has led to more than 600,000 of its workers not covered under the company health care plan.

Once again, Wal-Mart has passed up an opportunity to do the right thing and change. Rather than meet with us and form a new partnership to help Wal-Mart become a better business, Wal-Mart has chosen a publicity stunt designed to perpetuate a fraudulent image on America.

October 24, 2005

WAL-MART OFFERS SHAM HEALTH CARE PLAN AS PUBLICITY STUNT

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott is announcing Wal-Mart’s “”new”” health care plans for 2006.  Wal-Mart falsely claims its plans will increase the number of employees who can afford health insurance. In fact, Wal-Mart’s so-called “”new”” Value Plan is simply a repackaging of the poor health care plans Wal-Mart already offers, which already leave over half of its employees without company provided health care.

“”Wal-Mart’s new health care plan is another empty promise wrapped in a publicity stunt that will do nothing to increase health care coverage for over 600,000 Wal-Mart employees who go without company provided health care,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director of WakeUpWalMart.com.

“”Wal-Mart fails to address the key reasons more than half of its employees aren’t covered under their health care plan – ridiculously high deductible costs and overly strict eligibility requirements.  Wal-Mart latest publicity stunt will do nothing to help their employees and is more reflective of a morally bankrupt company trying to deceive the American public than live up to its responsibilities as America’s largest corporation,”” added Blank.

Here are the facts.

Last year, Wal-Mart had two major health care plan options: 1) the Standard plan and 2) the Network plan.   Each of those plans has 4 options within them: 1) a $350 deductible; 2) a $500 deductible; 3) a $750 deductible; and, 4) a $1,000 deductible.

This year, Wal-Mart is introducing two additional options: 1) a so-called Value plan and 2) Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s).   Since the HSA’s are only available to employees who have already been enrolled in a Wal-Mart health care plan for one year, the HSA’s are not designed to, nor will the HSA’s, increase health care coverage for anyone.

Therefore, the only plan that has the potential to increase the abysmal fact that Wal-Mart only provides health insurance coverage to 48% of its employees is the Value plan.   The Value plan, however, comes with a $1,000 deductible.  In addition, the Value plan has additional deductibles for in-hospital care, prescription drugs and surgical care.  All told, the Value plan’s deductibles plus premiums could be as much as 25% of an employee’s take-home pay for individual coverage and up to 40% for family coverage.

Even more disturbing is the fact that the Value plan is almost identical, if not worse, than the $1,000 deductible versions of the existing Standard and Network plans already offered to Wal-Mart employees.

The following is a comparison of the rates between Wal-Mart’s proposed plan for 2006 and last year’s plans.

Jan. 2005          Jan 2006

Network Plan $1000 deductible            $17.50              $18

Standard Plan $1000 deductible           $21.00              $21.50

Value Plan $1000 deductible                Not Available     $25 (on average)

$10.50 (limited areas)

Wal-Mart’s business model has already paved the way for other corporations to try and reduce their health benefits to employees.   Currently, the average company with 200 or more employees has 67% of its workers covered under the company health care plan, Wal-Mart is well below that average with only 48% of its employees covered under the company health care plan.

“”Wal-Mart’s so-called Value health care plan offers nothing but an empty promise of higher deductibles that remain unaffordable and out-of-reach to most Wal-Mart workers.   With Wal-Mart’s poverty-level wages, the average worker would have to spend up to 40% of their take-home pay to purchase the family option of this so-called Value plan.  No wonder Wal-Mart admits the taxpayer-funded public safety net is often a ‘better value’ than their own inadequate health care plan.””

October 20, 2005

WakeUpWalMart.com response to Wal-Mart’s Announcement to Toughen Standards

WakeUpWalMart.com issued the following response to Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott’s announcement today that Wal-Mart would work to tighten standards at its overseas suppliers.

“”Unfortunately, Wal-Mart’s exploitation of workers is not limited to its use of sweatshop labor overseas. Our campaign is building a sea of public pressure to force Wal-Mart to end its race-to-the-bottom business model.

For too long, the American people have paid the price as Wal-Mart has relied on sweatshop labor to produce its cheap products. We will continue to work hard to get Wal-Mart to change its outrageous practices of exploiting sweatshop labor and failing to meet international labor standards. But, sweatshop labor is only the beginning of the long list of problems that Wal-Mart must address.

We welcome the opportunity to have a dialogue with Wal-Mart about how it can improve working conditions both here and abroad, but we know that actions speak louder than word. We hope Wal-Mart will accept our ‘Six Demands for Change’ and work with us to form a partnership for change.

Over the next several months, our campaign will continue to highlight the disastrous effect Wal-Mart is having on communities, families and our country. We hope Wal-Mart won’t respond with rhetoric and vague small steps, but will take bold action to change their greedy, arrogant ways.””

October 13, 2005

WAKEUPWALMART.COM REACHES RECORD MILESTONE AND ANNOUNCES NEW NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP

Oct. 13, 2005 – Washington, D.C. – WakeUpWalMart.com, the group leading the national fight to change Wal-Mart, announced today it had achieved a record milestone of public support. In the last six months, over 103,052 Americans have joined the WakeUpWalMart.com movement. The WakeUpWalMart.com campaign enjoys growing grassroots support in all 50 states, and is one of America’s fastest growing social and political movements.

“”We are witnessing the creation of a new social and political movement led by ordinary Americans, from all across the country, who are coming together to change Wal-Mart into a responsible corporation,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com. “”The national momentum to change Wal-Mart is both incredible and unprecedented.””

Today, WakeUpWalMart.com also announced an exciting new partnership with two of the largest grassroots organizations in the country – Jobs with Justice and ACORN. The alliance between Jobs with Justice, ACORN, and WakeUpWalMart.com builds an unparalleled force for change with thousands of activists, on-the-ground organizers and community groups ready to help change Wal-Mart in every town and city in America. Jobs with Justice and ACORN will be instrumental in helping WakeUpWalMart.com raise public awareness of why Wal-Mart needs to change beginning with Wal-Mart Week in November and extending through the entire holiday season.

“”This is a new day in the fight to change Wal-Mart. We have created an unprecedented, bottom-up force for change which will demonstrate why Wal-Mart needs to change now,”” added Maude Hurd, ACORN’s national president.

“”We are building the largest grassroots movement in history to change Wal-Mart. Our movement is led by community coalitions who believe America’s largest corporation should reflect the best in American values,”” said Fred Azcarate, executive director of Jobs with Justice.

ACORN
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the nation’s largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities. Since 1970, ACORN has grown to more than 175,000 member families, organized in 850 neighborhood chapters in 75 cities across the U.S. and in cities in Canada, the Dominican Republic and Peru.

Jobs with Justice
Jobs with Justice (JwJ) is a national network of local coalitions that connect labor, faith-based, community, and student organizations to work together on workplace and community social justice campaigns. JwJ coalitions now exist in over 40 cities in 29 states in all regions of the country.

September 23, 2005

The Question Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott Didn’t Answer

In an interview with Business Week, posted on their website today, Wal-Mart’s CEO did not answer a very important question.

The reporter asked Mr. Scott why Wal-Mart was reaching out to environmental groups and not WakeUpWalMart.com.  Mr. Scott responded, “”I don’t see any benefit to it. What I found in reaching out to these other groups [environmentalists & anti-sweatshop activists] is that while there are exceptions, in most cases they would like for Wal-Mart to be successful. That is fine with them. What they would like to see us do is change in a way that really makes a contribution to society.””

When the reporter followed up with, “”That isn’t the agenda of the unions?””

Lee Scott responsed with, according to Business Week, “”Silence. No answer.””

“”Why won’t Lee Scott answer the question?”” said Paul Blank, campaign director, WakeUpWalMart.com.  “”WakeUpWalMart.com is offering Wal-Mart a genuine opportunity to form a new partnership for change to improve the lives of their workers, their families and the community.  In an open letter to Wal-Mart’s CEO last week, we wrote, ‘In the end we are not your enemy.  Our goal is to be your partner in making Wal-Mart a better business’.””

Paul Blank continued, “”Instead of answering the demands of the American people, Wal-Mart remains silent.  On behalf of our more than 80,000 supporters, and all Americans, we will make Lee Scott answer the American people’s call for living wages, affordable health care, and respect.  We hope Wal-Mart will wake-up and accept our offer to meet and discuss how we can help Wal-Mart grow and prosper in new ways.””

Below is the open letter WakeUpWalMart.com sent to Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott last week:

AN OPEN LETTER TO WAL-MART CEO LEE SCOTT

Mr. Lee Scott, CEO
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611

Dear Mr. Scott,

In the wake of the terrible tragedies caused by Hurricane Katrina, Wal-Mart helped ease the suffering of many Americans.  This crisis brought out the best in Wal-Mart and we applaud your hurricane relief efforts. We hope Wal-Mart’s response to Hurricane Katrina represents a turning point.

Wal-Mart has a great opportunity to work with us to help improve the lives of so many Americans who face an economic and health care crisis everyday, everywhere in America. The American people want to know, will Wal-Mart do what is right for America or will Wal-Mart lead a race to the bottom.

We believe now is the time for Wal-Mart to address the serious issues facing its 1.3 million workers, their families, our communities and our country by agreeing to the following “”six demands for change.””

  1. Living Wage.  Pay all Wal-Mart workers a fair living wage so they can support their families.
  2. Affordable Health Care.  Provide all workers comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage so they can care for their families and no longer be forced to rely on taxpayer-funded public health care.
  3. End Discrimination.  Ensure equal opportunity and equal pay for women and people of color in your workforce at all levels through a stringent and independent monitoring process.
  4. Zero Tolerance on Child Labor. Adopt a zero tolerance policy and institute an independent monitoring program to stop the exploitation of child labor in the United States and abroad.
  5. Buy American.  Establish a “”Buy America”” program that annually increases the percentage of “”Made in America”” goods purchased by Wal-Mart so as to help protect American jobs.
  6. Respect Communities. Work with local communities to effectively address Wal-Mart’s negative impact on issues like traffic, sprawl, the environment, and local businesses.

As you stated recently, “”When you do the right thing, good things accrue to you.””  We agree.  Just imagine the good Wal-Mart can do if it works with us to become a better company by doing the right thing – everyday. We hope you will view our “”six demands for change”” as a sincere effort to form a new partnership for change.

In the end, we are not your enemy. Our goal is to be your partner in making Wal-Mart a better business.  We welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how we can help Wal-Mart grow and prosper in new ways. But, make no mistake about it, if Wal-Mart refuses to change for the better, we will continue to build this broad-based social movement into one of the most powerful forces for change the nation has ever seen.

Wal-Mart has an incredible opportunity – right now – to work with us to better the lives of all your workers, to set a new standard for corporate America, to be a better business, and to build a better nation. We hope you will and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

WakeUpWalMart.com – America’s Campaign to Change Wal-Mart.

P.S. This November we, along with a broad coalition of community organizations, will be launching Wal-Mart Week, November 13th – 19th, to highlight Wal-Mart’s negative impact on America.  You can go to www.walmartweek.com and learn more about the actions we will be taking and the movie being released.  Our hope is that by then, instead of highlighting Wal-Mart’s failures, we can stand together and celebrate a new day at Wal-Mart – a day when real change improved the lives of millions of Americans.

September 19, 2005

Statement by Paul Blank, WakeUpWalMart.com Campaign Director, on First-Ever “”Congressional Hearing on Wal-Mart””

Today, in Cleveland, Ohio, Congressman Sherrod Brown will hold the first-ever Congressional field hearing on the negative impact of Wal-Mart’s business practices. WakeUpWalMart.com is proud to be a part of this important national hearing and will work to hold additional hearings to highlight the cost Americans pay for Wal-Mart’s so-called ‘low prices.’

Cong. Brown’s “”Wal-Mart Hearing”” represents a dramatic next step in the growing movement to change Wal-Mart and build a better America. This hearing will help educate consumers about why Wal-Mart needs to change and build greater public awareness and political support to change Wal-Mart into a more responsible corporate actor.

As America will no doubt learn from this hearing, Wal-Mart needlessly chooses to “”do the wrong thing”” even though they have the means and wherewithal to “”do what is right.””  The question Wal-Mart must now answer is, when will they stand up and finally address the negative effects their business practices have on their employees, their families, the community, and the nation?

We hope Wal-Mart will finally listen to the growing chorus of community voices and work with us to make Wal-Mart into a company that reflects the best of America’s values everyday.