Buy your back-to-school supplies somewhere other than Wal-Mart this year
The next time you see a “bargain” at the retail giant Wal-Mart, consider what it’s costing workers‹and taxpayers‹in your community. As an AFT e-Activist, we are asking you to join your union in a long-term effort to convince Wal-Mart to become a responsible employer and good corporate citizen.
The effort begins with the “Send Wal-Mart Back to School this Summer” campaign, supported by the AFT, the AFL-CIO and other unions to educate members and the public about Wal-Mart’s dismal record on employee pay, benefits, worker rights, outsourcing and more. This campaign will be launched Aug. 10 by news conferences in a number of cities across the nation.
Help us send a message to Wal-Mart that it’s time for one of the world’s richest companies to treat its workers with dignity and respect. Please sign the pledge to buy your back-to-school supplies somewhere other than Wal-Mart this year:
Want to know more? Here are some details:
A Department of Labor investigation last year cited Wal-Mart for 24 violations of child labor laws, including one incident in which a minor was injured while operating a chain saw. Wal-Mart also has a record of forcing employees to work “off the clock,” and the company’s own 2005 annual report shows that it has faced 44 wage and hour lawsuits.
Wal-Mart provides healthcare coverage to just 48 percent of its work force. Part-timers‹anybody below 34 hours a week‹must wait two years before they can enroll and are ineligible for family healthcare coverage. Full-time hourly employees must wait 180 days (approximately six months) before being able to enroll in Wal-Mart’s health insurance plan.
In March 2005, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle federal allegations that it used undocumented immigrants to clean its stores. Many of the janitors worked seven days or nights a week without overtime pay or injury compensation.
Wal-Mart’s relentless efforts to drive down the costs of goods has meant many suppliers have moved their production to China, where child labor laws are not enforced and free trade unions are suppressed. Wal-Mart is now just behind eight other countries as the biggest trading partner for China.
Wal-Mart’s “race to the bottom” in salaries and benefits force some of its employees to rely on government-funded programs, including subsidized school lunches, food stamps, child healthcare and low-income housing assistance. Each Wal-Mart store employing 200 people costs taxpayers approximately $420,750 annually in public social services used by Wal-Mart workers whose low wages and unaffordable health insurance mean most of them are among the working poor.
In June 2003, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge found Wal-Mart violated federal labor laws in 2000 by refusing to bargain over job changes it imposed on meat cutters in a Jacksonville, Texas, store after they voted for union representation. The skilled meat cutters were suddenly demoted to “sales associates” and all Wal-Mart stores eventually shifted to selling pre-cut meat.