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2, 1998 10:25 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
Greg Denier 202-466-1591
|Grassroots Movement to Challenge Wal-Mart Move to Supermarket Business|
- December 2 -
A mass march on Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., staged from Kansas
City, St. Louis and Little Rock is the beginning of a new neighborhood-based
campaign to challenge the retail giant's takeover move in the supermarket
industry, according to the president of the 1.4 million-member United Food and
Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Doug Dority.
Dority outlined the "Good Neighbor Campaign" to more than 1,000 rank-and-file workers from across the country as they prepared to march on Wal-Mart's headquarters. The campaign will focus on a "good neighbor pledge card" that will be circulated door-to-door, at churches, at community centers and union halls. The card asks consumers to use their voice, their vote and their dollars to support good jobs with living wages and family health benefits for their communities. Consumers are also asked to pledge not to buy groceries at Wal-Mart. Chanting "Wal-Mart...Not In My Neighborhood," the workers signaled their commitment to take the program into their neighborhoods following the march.
John Sweeney, president of the 13.5 million member AFL-CIO, joined Dority in signing the "Good Neighbor Pledge," and announced that he would ask all union-negotiated health benefit plans to end the use of Wal-Mart pharmacies for prescription drug programs.
The new movement to challenge Wal-Mart followed the company's plan to take over the traditional supermarket business with the opening of a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Arkansas. Wal-Mart has indicated its intent to spread the neighborhood market concept across the country.
Wal-Mart's takeover effort would destroy existing supermarket jobs, lower wages and eliminate affordable health benefits. A new entry into the retail food business does not create new business or jobs. Business and jobs just get shifted from one employer to another. Most major supermarket chains pay living wages and provide employer-paid health benefits. A shift of jobs to Wal-Mart would lower wages about $3 an hour and cut health benefits for most workers. Six out of 10 Wal-Mart workers are not covered under the company health benefit plan, and those that are, pay about $1,200 a year on an average salary of $7.50 an hour.
Women workers, who make up the majority of retail workers, could be devastated in any shift of supermarket business to Wal-Mart. Supermarket jobs are one of the largest single sources of jobs with health benefits for women workers.
"Wal-Mart has the money with over $3 billion in profits. But we have the people. We have the power in our pockets and pocketbooks to stop Wal-Mart from destroying good jobs. We are going to mobilize that power to protect our neighborhoods and our communities," said Dority.
------ For more information and/or the full text of speeches by Dority and Sweeney contact Greg Denier, 202-466-1591.
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