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MTA tells Wal-Mart to "wake up"!

It's back-to-school shopping time for teachers, as well as students. But where, exactly, should they shop?

The MTA and the NEA are asking members to consider taking their dollars to stores that treat employees better than Wal-Mart does. Wal-Mart is infamous for paying very low wages and providing limited health insurance benefits, despite turning a huge profit each year.

The MTA Board of Directors voted on August 7 to support the "Wake-Up Wal-Mart" campaign to give members information about Wal-Mart's anti-worker and anti-union activities. Wal-Mart also funds initiatives in support of school vouchers, which drain money and support from public schools.

"As educators, how could we not endorse a campaign to reform a corporation that pays thousands of it employees too little to support their children or provide them with health care?" asked MTA President Catherine A. Boudreau. 

"How could we not endorse a campaign to reform a corporation that consistently fights workers' efforts to unionize and that has been fined by the federal government for child-labor-law violations?"

The MTA and other state affiliates of the NEA followed the NEA's lead in supporting the campaign. NEA President Reg Weaver explained that the endorsement is short of a formal boycott of the giant retailer. The goal of the campaign is to shine a light on Wal-Mart's anti-employee practices to pressure the company to reform.

Wal-Mart's salaries are so low that many employees qualify for food stamps and other government-funded benefits.

According to The Boston Globe, Wal-Mart employs nearly 11,800 workers in Massachusetts.

"The state's most recent report on employers shows that 2,914 Wal-Mart employees in the Bay State, or 25 percent, use state-subsidized healthcare because they do not qualify for benefits at Wal-Mart or cannot afford them," the Globe reported on August 11.

For more information about the campaign, go to www.wakeupwalmart.com.