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Union Organizing Wal-Mart Protests

November 9, 2002

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ A union that has spent years trying to get a foothold among workers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is planning protests across the country later this month to allege unfair practices by the world’s largest retailer.

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union spokesman Greg Denier says the protests are planned for Nov. 21 at Wal-Mart discount stores and Sam’s Club warehouse stores in all 50 states.

Wal-Mart won a court decision earlier this year against the UFCW, which the company accused of harassing its workers. The court order kept union organizers out of Wal-Mart stores, but allowed the union to solicit on store parking lots, as other groups can.

The UFCW says Wal-Mart workers are underpaid and don’t have enough access to insurance.

``It is the launching campaign. It’s not a day that ends but a day that begins around Wal-Mart operations,″ Denier said.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Cynthia Illick says Wal-Mart was aware of the union’s plans.

``We know that it’s another effort by UFCW to discredit our company because they have not been able to organize our associates in the past,″ she said.

Illick said Wal-Mart offers affordable health coverage for its workers.

``More than 60 percent of our associates are eligible and that’s in line with the national average,″ she said. She could not say how many workers were actually enrolled. The company employs 1.3 million people in the United States and abroad.

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