Higher Expectations

Less than 48 per cent of Wal-Mart employees are offered medical insurance. And the company's answer? Hire more healthy people.
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Last week, I participated in a truly amazing American moment: Higher Expectations Week, organized by Wal-Mart Watch and over 400 partner organizations. The goal of the week was to bring together a range of interests to talk about the role Wal-Mart plays in our economy, and ask for radical reform of its business practices. For those who think this is just spin, check out the clippings on walmartwatch.com

For those who want the shorthand of what we saw and how we felt, these are some of the highlights…

In Philadelphia, I joined an action at a local Wal-Mart store with hundreds of women’s, community, and union activists as well as students and neighbors. For many, this was the first time they had come to a rally, and they were electric and inspiring about not wanting a future as a Wal-Mart "associate".

Iowans for Health Care helped put together a state legislator’s town hall meeting to talk about Wal-Mart’s role in the health care crisis, where less than 48 per cent of its employees have health care and too many others have their health care paid for by taxpayer dollars. And Wal-Mart's answer --hire only healthy people and add more part timers.

In Lansing, the wife of one of our Michigan public service workers heard about the “High Cost of Low Price”, and organized a screening of the movie at a local coffeehouse. Another member, who was a Pennsylvania political activist from last year, joined as well as another of the over 2,142 SEIU house parties organized by SEIU members.

America last week also had 5000 screenings of the blockbuster two thumbs up movie: The High Cost of Low Prices by Robert Greenwald.

It is time we find a better way to ensure corporate responsibilty. To ensure evryone shares more fairly in the success of large employers. America must raise our expectations about valuing and rewarding work.

Last week was a start!

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