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WakeUpWalMart.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 26, 2006
11:04 AM

CONTACT:  WakeUpWalMart.com
Chris Kofinis, 202-486-6422

 
WakeUpWalMart.com Exposes Wal-Mart's New Health Care Plan For Part-Time Workers
 

WASHINGTON - May 26 - Details of Wal-Mart's "New Plan" undermine Wal-Mart's previous health care announcement.

Documents expose Wal-Mart's secret plan to cut workers' hours, shift to a majority part-time workforce, and cut benefits for full-time workers "transitioned" to part-time.

Today, WakeUpWalMart.com, America's campaign to change Wal-Mart, released copies of Wal-Mart's new health care benefits plan for current part-time employees and full-time employees "transitioned" to part-time. The health care documents were given to the group by Wal-Mart employees concerned about the terrible effects that Wal- Mart's new policies, in particular the drastic transition from full- time to part-time, are having on employee morale, customer service and store performance.

The first document, a 7-page booklet, titled "My Benefits: New Peak Time Benefits: Making a Difference for You," details the specific changes to Wal-Mart's health care benefits which the company announced last month. The second document is a memo from Wal-Mart's "administrative committee" to all "full and peak-time hourly associates," titled a "Summary of Material Modifications to Associates' Health and Welfare Plan."

Both documents were given to employees as part of a special enrollment period which runs from May 15 through May 26, 2006. The special enrollment period, however, is not open to all Wal-Mart associates. Only associates who are part-time and have more than 1 year of service but less than 2 years of service (part-timers with more than 2 years of service are only eligible if they enroll their dependent) and full-time employees who were just 'transitioned' to part-time status, are eligible to enroll.

"Based on these new documents, either Wal-Mart falsely claimed it would offer its low cost plan to 50 percent of its Associates, or Wal-Mart has 'transitioned' many more workers to part-time than has been reported publicly. Either way, Wal-Mart's rhetoric doesn't match reality, and Wal-Mart workers are paying way too high a price," said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

Based on the two documents, it is obvious Wal-Mart's "new health care changes" will do little to expand health care coverage for many of its 1.3 million employees. Rather, Wal-Mart's health care changes are clearly structured to cut health care costs and minimize the public relations disaster from slashing over 200,000 full-time jobs and replacing or transitioning them with low paid part-time workers.

According to a JP Morgan report issued in January 2006, as well as the infamous internal health care memo authored by Wal-Mart Executive Vice President Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart publicly states it intends to shift hundreds of thousands of full-time workers to part- time status. In the two health care documents, Wal-Mart coldly refers to this shift as a "transition" and now describes part-time workers as "peak-time" employees.

Under the new health care changes, all 'transitioned' employees lose most of their benefits, including dental, life insurance and disability immediately, and will lose their health care benefit after one year. In addition, part-time Associates are unable to enroll their spouses. The lack of spousal coverage is consistent with Wal-Mart's desire to cut health care costs by decreasing spousal coverage. As Chambers states in the memo, "spouses are by far the most expensive plan members to cover."

Unfortunately, Wal-Mart's new health care plans continue to remain unaffordable for the average Wal-Mart employee. Wal-Mart's most affordable health care option, the Value Plan, has a $3,000 deductible for family coverage and several other deductibles for prescription drug coverage and hospital procedures. Based on all of the premiums and deductibles in the so-called 'Value' plan, a part- time Wal-Mart employee could have to pay up to 58 percent of his/her salary for an individual plan and up to 93 percent for family coverage.

Most disturbingly, newly transitioned employees who take advantage of this special enrollment will lose any money they have already spent on their deductible and will once again have to pay the full $3,000 deductible.

"For the sake of Wal-Mart's workers, their families, and the American taxpayer, we call on Lee Scott and Wal-Mart to propose real health care changes that don't dangerously discriminate against single, uninsured part-time workers and exclude health care coverage for spouses. Wal-Mart's plan to expand health care coverage to employees while making it more unaffordable through lower pay and less hours is deceptive and a national disgrace," added Blank.

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