Union-Backed Wal-Mart Foes Launch Bus Tour

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - A union-backed group that wants to "change" (unionize) Wal-Mart workers has started a cross-country bus tour that mixes politics with union advocacy.

WakeUpWalMart.com said its 19-state, 35-city, 35-day "Change Wal-Mart, Change America" bus tour begins Tuesday in New York City, and will make its first stop in Connecticut on Wednesday.

Among other things, the union-affiliated group is demanding that Wal-Mart "start providing affordable health care, pay a living wage, [and] provide a safe and just workplace."

WakeUpWalMart.com and Connecticut Democrats -- including embattled Sen. Joe Lieberman -- plan to hold a press conference on Wednesday, and the politicians are expected to sign a pledge to fight for a "better America," WakeUpWalMart.com said.

The tour features a 45-foot "fully wrapped" bus emblazoned with the name of the tour -- and a message urging people to "Join America's Fight for Health Care."

But a group formed to defend Wal-Mart from union attacks says there are several questions Americans should ask the "Paid Critics Bus Tour."

"These paid critics should explain to America's union families exactly how much of their dues are being spent to fund a road trip for political operatives," Working Families for Wal-Mart said.

"While these paid critics stage political-style stunts, Wal-Mart is creating thousands of good- paying jobs, expanding affordable health care for its associates, selling environmentally-friendly goods and saving more than $2,300 for the average American household every year," said Catherine Smith, national steering committee member for Working Families for Wal-Mart.

"These union-funded groups should be working for solutions to the challenges facing America's working families -- not attacking a company where working families shop and make a living," Smith added.

Working Families for Wal-Mart said Americans also should ask how many gallons of gasoline the union bus tour will burn up in the course of its journey; and how much carbon dioxide it will contribute to the atmosphere.

The "Change Wal-Mart, Change America"/"Paid Critics" bus tour begins Tuesday in New York City.

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