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  • Smart_Investor6 Smart_Investor6 Feb 19, 2004 10:57 AM Flag

    Miller report hits Wal-Mart 'costs'

    Posted on Tue, Feb. 17, 2004

    Miller report hits Wal-Mart 'costs'

    By Thomas Peele


    CONCORD - Colossus retailer Wal-Mart drains government resources because its low-paid, under-insured or non-insured workers have to rely on public subsidies, such as school lunch programs and Section 8 housing, according to a congressional report Rep. George Miller released here Monday.

    With supporters of a March ballot measure to ban Wal-Mart superstores and other "big-box" businesses in unincorporated Contra Costa County flanking him, Miller, D-Martinez, ripped the Arkansas-based corporation for creating "downward spirals in communities," violating child labor and workplace safety laws and "paying wages below industry averages."

    The report, which the Democratic staff of the House Education and Workforce Committee prepared, estimates that taxpayers bear $420,750 in social services costs for each Wal-Mart store with 200 workers. The company is the nation's largest employer with an estimated 1.2 million employees and more than 3,200 stores.

    "Wal-Mart puts a great deal of pressure on its competitors to lower prices," said Miller at a Presidents Day news conference at his district office. "This is about the real price of Wal-Mart."

    By not providing health insurance to workers who log less than 34 hours a week, "those workers go to public hospitals and everybody picks up the tab," he said.

    Forcing employees to go back to work after punching out at time clocks and locking them inside stores on overnight shifts so they can't leave to seek medical attention also have been commonplace for the company, which Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, said was "built on human misery."

    Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams called the report irresponsible and said Miller was pandering to labor unions that make up much of his political base. Wal-Mart stores are non-unionized.

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