Employees, Various Support Groups Protest Outside Wal-Mart In Wake Of The Company's Recent Health Care Benefit Changes

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flickr user Daisy.Sue
Wal-Mart's employees aren't nearly as happy as its logo.

Employees are miffed with the company's decision to scale back health benefits for part-time employees and hike premiums for some full-time employees.

As a result, a couple of Orange County groups are waging support campaigns in hopes that Wal-Mart executives will change their minds.

Chirag Bhakta
of the Orange County Labor Federation was one of about 30 people who attended a protest at a Wal-Mart in Paramount last week. He says he attended the protest to show his solidarity with "laborers everywhere." 

"With Wal-Mart, there's been a lot of silence. They're really good at curbing any type of worker resistance. The people who work there tell their employers, 'You can't keep doing this to us. You make record profits and are taking away our healthcare,'" Bhakta says. 

While Bhakta spoke of record profits, the company claims they had to make the health care changes to balance things out amid rising costs. 

In a New York Times story by Steven Greenhouse and Reed Abelson, Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter said:
"Over the last few years, we've all seen our health care rates increase and it's probably not a surprise that this year will be no different. We made the difficult decision to raise rates that will affect our associates' medical costs. The decisions made were not easy, but they strike a balance between managing costs and providing quality care and coverage." 

Dan Hindman, a part-time employee at the Paramount Wal-Mart where the protest was held last week, says he's grateful to the Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart -- or OUR Wal-Mart, for short. Hindman says it was the nonunion group of employees that told him about the health care change, not his employer themselves. 

Hindman says his frustration with the company has mounted since he was first employed. 
"You have to be fulltime to get healthcare. I've been there three years. I've been promised and promised and promised full-time and nothing. I don't believe in the word promise anymore," Hindman says. "The healthcare thing is killing me."

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