Group Meets With Leaders to Plead for Change with Wal-Mart

by Peter Marcus Denver Daily News August 22, 2006 Over 200 people gathered with state and local leaders yesterday at the RTD Market Street station to encourage Wal-Mart to provide affordable health care, living wage and protect American jobs. The so-called 2006 Change Wal-Mart, Change America bus tour stopped in Denver as part of a national tour stopping in 19 states and 35 cities in 35 days. The tour is sponsored by a grassroots organization, Senate Majority Leader Joan Fitz-Gerald, State Rep. Judy Solano, D-Adams County, Democratic State Party Chair Pat Waak, and David Sirota, co-chair of the Progressive States Network and author of “Hostile Takeover,”? made remarks. Fitz-Gerald called on Wal-Mart to lessen the burden on taxpayers, both in Colorado and across the nation, according to the tou’rs spokesman, Chris Kofinis. Kofinis said she pointed to independent reports that indicate that it costs taxpayers nearly $1.2 billion to insure Wal-Mart workers who are forced onto public health care assistance because they do not receive insurance through the company. “We don’t want Wal-Mart to go out of business, we just want it to be responsible,”? said Kofinis. “If that’s wrong, I’m living in the wrong country.”? Wal-Mart issued this statement: “This is a union-funded publicity stunt that’s more about politics than anything else. The fact is these union-funded groups are attacking the wrong company. Wal-Mart offers associates $23 per month health plans, creates tens of thousands of jobs per year, and is selling more organic and environmentally friendly products.”? The company also sent a letter to Fitz-Gerald prior to the bus tour stopping in Denver. “You have dedicated your professional lives to helping the people of Colorado,”? wrote Kevin Miller, Wal-Mart regional general manager. “You have made a difference and that is commendable. We know we make a difference too ”” whether it is by saving the average American household more than $2,300 per year or having donated more than $245 million to charities last year alone.”? Kofinis said Wal-Mart is focusing on the wrong issues. “They fail to provide affordable health care, and they’ve done more to outsource good-paying, middle-class jobs overseas, and they do this all in the name of low prices,”? he said. “They could easily provide affordable health care, good wage and help protect American jobs, and be a good responsible employer. They just don’t want to do it.”?