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Wal-Mart's Effects on Competitors and Society

November 28, 2003

"Grocery Unions Battle to Stop Invasion of the Giant Stores" (Nov. 25) paints a misleading picture about the company's impact on unionized California grocers. An underlying theme of the story is that Wal-Mart is the reason our grocery competitors are lowering wages and benefits to their unionized employees.

The facts simply do not support this. Wal-Mart plans to open 40 "Supercenters" in California over the next four years, and each will employ approximately 450 people. Less than 20% of these associates will work in grocery, which represents about 80 or 90 associates per store. In fact, Wal-Mart will employ fewer than 4,000 nonunion grocery workers to compete with the more than 200,000 existing United Food and Commercial Workers employees. In other words, it is likely that Wal-Mart will employ about 2% of the total grocery workforce in California four years from now.

Knowing these facts, is it really reasonable to "blame" Wal-Mart for whatever the unionized grocers are doing in California? We do not think so.

We will continue to focus on doing what is right for our customers and associates. Many of our customers live paycheck to paycheck. They look to Wal-Mart to provide them with food, clothes and the other basic necessities of life -- at the lowest prices possible. They are the backbone of this country, and serving them will remain our No. 1 priority at Wal-Mart.

Mona Williams

Vice Pres., Communications

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Bentonville, Ark.

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In "An Empire Built on Bargains Remakes the Working World" (Nov. 23), does Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams understand the irony of her statement, " ... so that's why Wal-Mart does everything it can to make sure that we are providing our associates what they want and need."

What about making $9 per hour instead of $15 like unionized grocery clerks? What about providing health care so employees don't have to use hospital emergency rooms for basic health problems? It doesn't sound like Wal-Mart is doing much to give its employees anything except low wages, scant benefits and dead-end jobs.

Bill Prestridge

San Clemente

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Consumers may save $1.29 on a gallon of milk but pay more in taxes for Wal-Mart employees who can't afford health-care insurance and utilize county health-care facilities. Why are we rewarding a company for sending jobs overseas, not paying its employees a living wage and paying its managers 500% more than its basic workers? Wake up, America, your job could be next!

Connie Juella Tarvin

Los Angeles

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