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Food Workers Union ask Wal-Mart to provide health care to employees


December 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Food Workers Union ask Wal-Mart to provide health care to employees


REGION, November 4th- The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776, which represents workers throughout southeastern, central and northeastern Pennsylvania including the Lehigh Valley, is calling for Wal-Mart Stores to do the right thing and provide health care for their workers.

According to Wendell Young IV, President of the 23,000 member Local 1776, recently the union conducted a action at a Wal-Mart Store in the region and distributed fliers to customers requesting them to urge Wal-Mart to provide meaningful health care coverage to them.

“Wal-Mart claims that 94 percent of its workers have some form of health care. But the company fails to mention that only half of its workers are covered by the company and that many of the 700,000 who are not covered are forced onto taxpayer-supported state health insurance plans because they earn poverty wages and can’t afford the company’s plan,” said Mr. Young from Local 1776’s main office in Plymouth Meeting, which is near Philadelphia.

UFCW Local 1776 represents workers employed in supermarkets; drug stores, including Rite Aid; food processing plants; government services; manufacturing facilities; nursing homes, including the Cedarbrook Nursing Home in Lehigh County; professional offices and the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Shoppes.

Michele Kessler, Secretary/Treasurer of Local 1776, stated that under the company’s least expensive family health care coverage the average full-time Wal-Mart worker must spend more than 20 percent of his or her annual income before the plan pays any reimbursement.

“Yet, Wal-Mart claims that every American should have affordable health insurance. When it comes to health care, Wal-Mart clearly wears many masks. If it really cared about health care, it would do the right thing and make its actions match its words. It would use some of the massive profits to make sure that its workers get the quality, affordable health care coverage that it gives its executives and that all Americans should have,” said Ms. Kessler.

UFCW stated that among 18 states that file reports with the federal government on disclosing where the persons who receive state benefits work, taxpayers pay more than $billion a year to provide health care for Wal-Mart employees. Ohio alone in September reported spending $68 million to give Wal-Mart workers Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits.

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