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Workers criticize Wal-Mart in TV ads

A union-backed group is to launch two television ads today that feature Wal-Mart workers calling on their employer to improve working conditions and make company health insurance more affordable.

Funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the 30-second ads by WakeUpWalMart.com include three workers who list their complaints, which include low wages, being locked in stores and not being able to leave without penalty to care for a sick child.

"This holiday season, tell Wal-Mart to do the right thing, put America's families first," the three workers say in one ad, sharing segments of the dialogue.

The ads are to run in 30 metropolitan areas, including Tampa Bay.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokesman David Tovar said that the claims in the ads break no new ground and that Wal-Mart's customers understand the company.

"People see that Wal-Mart gets good things done," he said.

The workers were identified as Charmaine Givins of Chicago; Cynthia Murray of Hyattsville, Md.; and Ramiro Gonzalez of El Paso, Texas.

Tovar did not have an immediate comment when asked whether publicly criticizing the company constitutes a firing offense.

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