Walton Family—Walmart Heirs—Exposed as the Face of the 1%
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Angered by Walmart’s recent decision to cut health care coverage for employees, current and former Walmart workers are holding teach ins at Occupy Wall Street encampments across the country. The events will highlight the fact that the Walton Family—the Walmart heirs—have made an extraordinary fortune while Walmart’s workers continue to largely make poverty-level wages. Additionally, the Walton family and Walmart have donated money to open the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art while cutting health insurance for full-time and part-time employees. The museum, which cost $1.2 billion, is scheduled to open today in Bentonville, Arkansas. The Walton family owns 48 percent of the company and dominates the Board of Directors.
“This is another outrageous example of the 1%--the Walton family—making decisions that negatively affect the rest of us,” says Sandy Carpenter, a former Walmart department manager who will be leading the teach-in in New York City. “The company claims it can’t afford to provide decent health care coverage, but the family who has made their fortune from the work of Walmart employees spends huge sums of money on things like the Crystal Bridges museum. It’s incredibly disrespectful.”
Walmart recently announced that all new part-time employees who work less than 24 hours per week would be ineligible for health care coverage. Part-time employees who work enough hours to qualify will be required to wait at least a year before being able to join the plan. At the same time, employees currently covered were informed that their premiums will rise by as much as 60 percent. Given that many Walmart employees live in poverty due to low wages paid by the company, the cuts in health care are simply devastating.
That’s why Walmart workers are joining with the Occupy Wall Street movement to highlight the disparity between spending billions on an art museum and cutting health care for employees. If Walmart and the Walton family have enough money to spend on an art collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars, they can figure out how to provide their employees with decent benefits.
Making Change at Walmart seeks to promote the American values of equality, dignity and respect in the workplace. The campaign is making change by working directly with Walmart associates to claim the respect on the job they deserve, holding Walmart corporate managers accountable to hourly employees and the public for their practices, and joining with community leaders in major cities across America to make sure that any new jobs offered by Walmart meet strong standards for healthy, growing communities.
Ben Waxman, 202-735-6862
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