Union organizers, lawmakers and community activists Wednesday accused retail giant Wal-Mart of failing to provide affordable health care coverage to its low-wage workers and leaving a $13 million-a-year bill for Georgia taxpayers.Though Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogelman remarked that the company "takes care of its people," organizers presented a different picture:
"In state after state, Wal-Mart is directly shifting its health care costs and responsibilities to the taxpayers," said Steve Lomax, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1996. "It's wrong, and it needs to stop."
Organizers said similar rallies were being held in 12 other states with the theme "Make Wal-Mart care about health care."
At the rally at the state Capitol in Atlanta, organizers displayed a 3-foot-by-6-foot mock Wal-Mart customer receipt, showing Georgia spends an estimated $13 million a year on health care coverage for the children of Wal-Mart employees.
It's based on a Georgia Department of Community Health survey, showing 10,261 of the 166,000 children covered by Georgia's PeachCare for Kids health insurance in September 2002 had a parent working for Wal-Mart Stores — far more than the state's other large employers.
Publix was a distant second, with 734 workers whose children are on PeachCare, said state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Atlanta).