On Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days in America, the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) staged a protest outside of Walmart stores around the country, demanding better wages and working conditions for the employees. They also complained about inadequate benefit packages. But, was this the real reason for their protest?
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, has tried and failed to unionize Walmart associates for more than a decade. However recently with the assistance from a branding firm founded by David Axelrod a top adviser to President Obama, they have renewed their attacks and increased their rhetoric demanding that Walmart allow their workers to unionize.
Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S., with nearly 1.6 million workers in 4,600 stores. The company operates in 26 countries, employing close to an additional million people.
In 2010, Walmart created an affordable healthcare insurance plan it began offering to its employees. Initially, Walmart executives publicly supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare, but they soon found out it was not as affordable as it was marketed as, and in 2012 they decided to move in a different direction.
In 2013 the unions and other liberal groups began to focus their attacks on Walmart's benefit package, mainly their healthcare option, calling it "substandard".
The Walmart plans, which are offered to 1.1 million enrolled employees, differ from Obamacare in that age and gender do not affect premium rates and there are no income eligibility requirements. (Source: NewsMax)
In a report done by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Obamacare enrollees face monthly premiums five to nine times higher than Walmart premiums. They gave an example of an unsubsidized premium for a nonsmoking couple age 60 would cost $1,365 per month, while the Walmart monthly premium for the same couple would be $134 per month.
Many Walmart employees polled by an independent insurance agency, are happy with their healthcare insurance adding that, they are able to keep their doctors and have access to the nations leading hospitals.
So why are unions and labor groups targeting Walmart's healthcare plan?
Sources say that Walmart is considering expanding its insurance program to the public, which would directly compete with Obamacare.
Could the unions targeting of Walmart be political? Many doctors are optioning out of Obamacare along with top rated hospitals. These same doctors and hospitals accept Walmart's insurance plan.
By the White Houses own estimation, up to 80 million people on employer sponsored plans will lose their healthcare insurance, when the employer mandate goes into effect. The Obama administration is counting on them to sign up for Obamacare. But what if other companies use Walmart as an example and create a healthcare insurance program for their employees? Obamacare is already on the brink of collapse.
If Walmart or other companies offer a better and affordable alternative to Obamacare, the presidents signature legislation may be doomed.
Source: Forbes Magazine, Business Week, NewsMax, Washington Examiner, Fox News, JAMA.