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October 25, 2005
Wal-Mart Supports Boost in Minimum Wage

Wal-Mart's chief executive says the company would support an increase in the federal minimum wage, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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"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.

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