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Consumer group calling on Walmart, Cooper Tires to improve treatment of workers

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December 19, 2011

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington, DC—The nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, the National Consumers League (NCL) is calling on Walmart and Cooper Tire & Rubber Company to reform the way they are treating their employees. According to NCL, Walmart and Cooper Tire reap hundreds of millions of dollars in profit through the hard work of their employees, yet both companies continue to curb employee rights and benefits.

Walmart recently announced that it will soon increase the burden of health care costs for its employees. NCL is concerned that those affected associates are already struggling to make ends meet and, due to Walmart’s system of scheduling, many will be unable to predict how many hours they will work each week and how they will budget for these increased costs and reduced health insurance eligibility for themselves and their families.

In a recent letter to the mega-retailer, NCL’s Executive Director Sally Greenberg wrote: “We call on Walmart, a company that has made billions in profits in the United States, to pay its fair share of health care costs for all its employees.  As many Walmart associates currently struggle with poverty-level wages and unpredictable schedules, we ask Walmart to reverse its decision to cut this vital benefit. We ask Walmart to disclose the full increased burden the proposed changes would have on associates, consumers, the taxpayers and communities.”

Along a similar vein, NCL is also encouraging Cooper Tire & Rubber Company to bargain in good faith with its workers during current negotiations for a new contract as well as end the current lockout of its employees in its facility in the United States. Cooper Tire locked out its workers, just days after Thanksgiving, while in contract negotiations, and after its workers gave up $31 million in wages and benefits in 2008; actions that are completely at odds with Cooper Tire & Rubber Company’ statement of its commitment to social responsibility.

According to the United Steelworkers, since 2009, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company enjoyed an operating profit of $448 million and compensated its executives with millions in bonus and raises and even purchased a new corporate jet.

“We believe that shareholders shouldn’t be the only beneficiaries of these profits,” said Michell K. McIntyre, Project Director of NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft.  “It is in Cooper Tire & Rubber Company’s best interest that the company shares these financial rewards equitably and fairly with its highly productive employees – the very same workforce that kept them afloat in hard times and contributed to making these significant profits possible.”

“NCL urges both companies to do the right thing by the many members of their loyal workforce and provide fair compensation, affordable healthcare, and the respect their workforce justly deserves,” said McIntyre.

NCL’s letter to Walmart is available here.

NCL’s letter to Cooper Tire & Rubber is available here.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.