AFL-CIO Releases Report Alleging Wal-Mart Worker Reliance on State Aid

WASHINGTON -- The AFL-CIO issued a report this week claiming that Wal-Mart employees in at least 19 states are relying on government health-care assistance.

In a report called the "The Wal-Mart Tax: Shifting Health Care Costs to Taxpayers," the union federation portrays Wal-Mart as a key contributor to the states' exploding costs for Medicaid. The report is said to look into the 23 states where information about Medicaid and other state poverty health-care recipients can be linked to their employers. The results were unclear in four states, AFL-CIO said.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Kelly Hobbs criticized the report, telling Reuters that it failed to point out that many employees were on public assistance before they went to work for the company. She said Wal-Mart found that even though 7 percent of employees were on public assistance when they joined Wal-Mart, the figure dropped to 3 percent for two-year employees.

The report follows a union-led drive in Maryland that AFL-CIO said led to the enactment of legislation to require employers of 10,000 workers or more to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health benefits, or pay the rest into a state low-income health-insurance fund.

The AFL-CIO said it is backing similar legislation in about two dozen other states, although it's unclear whether their efforts will bear fruit, as many legislative sessions are coming to a close.
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