Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wal-Mart uses taxpayers to support its workers' needs

The Burnt Orange Report has recently broadened its scope and writing staff to include much of Texas. This brings in interesting new coverage, such as this article from San Antonio's Express News:

One of the richest companies in the world also has more employees enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program than any other Texas employer.
Wal-Mart is relying on the public safety net, even encouraging its underpaid "associates" to take advantage of taxpayer-subsidized programs. (warning: numerous links from progressive websites follow, read at your own comfort-level of skepticism)

From Wal-Mart Watch .org (pdf):
The PBS program "Now with Bill Moyers," reported Wal-Mart provides new workers with toll-free numbers to determine eligibility for public benefits.

Wal-Mart denies encouraging workers to get on the dole. In a May 18 letter to Newcomb, Joe Kefauver, director of state government relations for Wal-Mart, said the company has been unfairly targeted by grocery employee unions.

"Please be assured that we do not encourage the use of public assistance, and we do not structure our plans with the idea that there will be a governmental safety net," Kefauver wrote, adding that more than 500,000 of its 1.2 million workers buy company health plans, which begin at $155 a month for a family.
In reality they have made notable effort to provide their "associates" with easy access to applications for public assistance.

Documents bearing the Wal-Mart logo reveal that the company issues paper "Instructions for Associates" which direct them in applying to public assistance programs. [Wal-Mart Social Services Documents, undated]

  • Document #1: The Wal-Mart "Instructions for Associates." This document bears the Wal-Mart logo and contains a section entitled, "Applying to a Social Service Agency?" The section instructs associates who are applying for social services to tell their caseworkers to verify employer information with Wal-Mart's outside contractor, The Work Number. [Wal-Mart Social Services Documents, undated]
  • Document #2: Wal-Mart Memo. This document is a Wal-Mart memo, again bearing the company logo, and informs recipients that the company uses The Work Number to verify employment and income for associates. The memo provides "Special Instructions" for social service agencies. [Wal-Mart Social Services Documents, undated]
  • Document #3: The Work Number Services. This document is a page from The Work Number website detailing what services it provides for employers. The Work Number can "save time and money" for employers by verifying employee information for the following public programs: TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), Food Stamps, Social Security and Medicaid. [http://www.theworknumber.com/employers/employers_govtverify.asp]
Wal-Mart does offer its own plans in some cases, but its coverage is extremely limited and in some cases completely unusable.

So if anyone tries to claim that illegal immigrants are a cause of concern because of their burden on taxpayers, I'd like to hear their views on Wal-Mart first. If any benefit of the doubt is allowed here it's for the immigrants. Humans need compassion and a helping hand more than extremely successful corporations.

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