Wal-Mart backs mandatory employer-supported medical insurance

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File photo of Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern

Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, explained to KPCC’s Patt Morrison why his union has cooperated with Wal-Mart executives on the healthcare effort.

The country’s largest employer, Wal-Mart, surprised many people last week when it endorsed the Obama administration’s idea that all companies offer medical insurance to their workers. Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, has been a vocal critic of Wal-Mart’s policies toward its workforce.

Andrew Stern: "I give Wal-Mart credit for all the criticism I’ve given them in the past. On this issue about shared responsibility, believing that everyone is going to have to contribute to the problem, they’ve shown incredible leadership in this letter to President Obama and I hope it will mean that other employers understand that America can’t compete in the global economy if we can’t do something about the cost of health care and that we have to level the playing field so everyone does their far share. I hope some other big employers will step forward and join them."

Wal-Mart employs almost 1.5 million people in the United States. Company representatives met with Obama administration officials just before the Independence Day holiday. Other major companies also are reconsidering their long-standing opposition to a federal mandate on healthcare coverage.

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