How small can a giant corporation get? I don’t mean in size, but in spirit.
Once again, America’s biggest commercial empire – Wal-Mart – is displaying its incredibly-shriveled ethical center by whacking the already-meager health care benefits that hundreds of thousands of its workers count on. Just a couple of years ago, this $408 billion-a-year retailing colossus tried to hush critics of its Dickensian labor policies by ballyhooing a bare-bones health care plan for its “associates” The insurance scheme had such high deductibles, however, that barely half of its employees bought into it.
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Now, even that benefit is being yanked from the 40 percent of Wal-Mart’s employees who are part-time workers. Also, insurance premiums and deductibles are being dramatically jacked up for thousands of full-time workers. For example, one full-timer who’s paid only $12,000 a year will see her premium more than double to about $3,300 a year – a fourth of her income! “I won’t be able to afford the insurance,” she says, “and I really can’t go without insurance, because I have a heart problem.”
Top executives and the board of directors of this enormously profitable corporation also have a heart problem. They are taking advantage of America’s raging unemployment crisis to stiff their workforce, since these low-wage, non-union employees desperately need the jobs and have no power to stand up to the corporation’s greed. A Wal-Mart PR-flak says that decisions to whack the workers “were not easy, but they strike a balance between managing costs and providing quality care and coverage.”
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