Wal-Mart's chief executive says the company would support an increase in the
federal minimum wage, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"While it is unusual for us to take a public position on a public policy
issue of this kind, we simply believe it is time for Congress to take a responsible
look at the minimum wage and other legislation that may help working families,"
said H. Lee Scott Jr., chief executive at Wal-Mart, in a conference call with
employees and executives.
Wal-Mart has received sharp criticism over its labor practices in recent years.
In response, the company has launched a public relations campaign to improve
its image and rebut the allegations.
The newspaper contends that since the company pays its full-time associates
an average of $9.68 per hour, any increase in the minimum wage would be a bigger
burden for its smaller competitors. The federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. Thus far, efforts to raise the minimum wage have failed in Congress.
The company also disclosed a new healthcare plan for employees. The plan will
carry a $1,000 deductible, but premiums will be 40 to 60 percent lower than
before, the newspaper notes. Premiums will average about $25 a month for individuals
and $65 a month for families, according to the company.