Tuesday, October 26, 2004

California: Wal-Mart pays $500,000 to deny workers healthcare

Wal-Mart Gives Money to Defeat Mandate


Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. contributed $500,000 Tuesday to try to defeat a California ballot measure that would require large and mid-size employers to help pay for health insurance for their workers.

"We had no choice but to get involved," said Cynthia Lin, a spokeswoman for the retail giant. She said new television ads promoting Proposition 72 "attempt to make Wal-Mart a scapegoat, claiming we do not provide affordable health care. These are outright lies."

More than $13.3 million has been raised to defeat the measure, with the bulk coming from fast-food chains and department stores.

Dr. Richard Corlin, former president of the American and California medical associations and a Proposition 72 supporter, predicted that Wal-Mart was "wasting money on a losing campaign."

"Wal-Mart had a lot of choices," he said. "They could have taken a more socially responsible point of view and said we have some holes in our coverage for our employees and we need to correct that."

Proposition 72 would require employers with at least 50 workers to pay at least 80 percent of the cost of health insurance for employees who work more than 100 hours a month.

The ads targeting Wal-Mart cite a University of California labor institute report that said California pays $32 million a year for health services for Wal-Mart employees who lack adequate health insurance.

Wal-Mart and other businesses opposing Proposition 72 have disputed the report's accuracy, saying it came from a pro-labor union think tank.

"Wal-Mart believes employers should provide quality health care coverage to their employees, and we do," Lin said. "We offer a wide choice of affordable health care options to both full- and part-time employees in California and across the country."

But Robert Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California, said Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart "denies coverage to half its employees through outright disqualification or by requiring premium co-payments that are out of reach for its poverty wage employees."


Post a Comment

<< Home