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Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the United States, with over 1.2 million employees—but their employees have little to smile about.
Wal-Mart Workers on Public Assistance
Despite Wal-Mart’s mammoth profits, the company actually burdens us--taxpayers--with its workers’ health care costs. In a disturbing nationwide trend, more state studies are revealing that Wal-Mart employees are the top recipients of taxpayer-paid health care. The scope of this corporate failure is massive: Wal-Mart fails to provide health care to 53% of their employees, while nationally 68% of workers at large companies receive employer health benefits.
For those fortunate enough to be offered insurance, Wal-Mart’s health plan has deductibles as high as $1,000 in addition to many hidden fees. For example: a $100 deductible for ER visits, a $100 deductible for ambulance services and a $25 weekly “spousal” surcharge for health coverage. Full-time Wal-Mart employees must wait six months to be eligible for their health care plan, while part-time employees must wait two years to become eligible.
Following Maryland’s lead, states nationwide are trying to pass Fair Share Health Care legislation, requiring large employers like Wal-Mart to meet minimum health care coverage standards for their employees. Wal-Mart has threatened to end business in regions where such legislation is passed.To learn more about Fair Share Health Care, click here.
The average pay for a Wal-Mart sales associate is $14,000 a year—$1,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. Wal-Mart mobilizes its incredible power to block union organizing efforts at all costs, sometimes in blatant violation of federal labor law. In California, for example, Wal-Mart is facing a lawsuit filed on behalf of 115,919 current and former employees who were systematically and illegally denied meal breaks while working for the company. In 2000, Wal-Mart closed its company-wide meat-cutting division after ten butchers in Texas voted to unionize their shop. Wal-Mart closed a profitable Canadian store in 2004 after employees chose union representation. Wal-Mart [reportedly] paid $50 million to settle a lawsuit that involved 69,000 workers in Colorado who had allegedly been forced to work off the clock. In recent years, Wal-Mart has faced legal actions in over thirty states for overtime violations.
Wal-Mart and Discrimination
Wal-Mart has been accused of every type of discrimination imaginable. African American employees and customers have both filed lawsuits against the retail giant. Disabled workers have sued Wal-Mart for passing them over for promotions. And Wal-Mart is the subject of the largest class action lawsuit ever, based on evidence that Wal-Mart systematically pays women less than their male counterparts, and offers them fewer opportunities for promotion. If you believe you were the subject of discrimination by Wal-Mart, please see an attorney. And if you’re concerned that Wal-Mart will treat workers in your local store similarly, let your local officials know.