Quickly drawing additional support from other large business, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott and Service Employees International Union head Andrew Stern agreed to bury the hatchet and work together to improve access to "quality, affordable" healthcare for everyone in the U.S. The move was quite a surprise for most observers, who have tracked the SEIU's aggressive fight to change Wal-Mart labor policies. But Stern, who has been a vociferous critic of Wal-Mart's labor and benefit packages, has said that he considers it more productive to work with the retailer on healthcare issues at this point, despite the history of bad blood.
Not long after the announcement, a number of major businesses joined the two players' call for healthcare change, including Intel, AT&T and Kelly Services. Neither the companies nor the union have made a detailed proposal for healthcare change, instead opting to commit to four broad principles. These include the concept that every person must have insurance, that businesses, government and individuals must kick in financially, that people must maintain their health, and that the health system is not efficient enough at present.
To get more background on the agreement:
- read this USA Today piece
ALSO: The U.S. food workers union apparently hasn't drunk the Kool-Aid. It dismisses Wal-Mart's universal health appeal as "posturing." Article