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Group Accuses Walmart Of Cutting Employees Hours To Avoid Healthcare Law

WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - Dozens of people stood outside a local Walmart today protesting what they call the "Walmart loophole" that has taxpayers footing the bill for the employee's health care.

This statewide tour began in West Sacramento on Friday morning with people who are very passionate.

There were signs, flyers and protesters who occupied the entrance to Walmart, wanting to close the so- "Walmart loophole" in the Affordable Care Act.

"It's really frustrating," said Barbara Andridge, a Placerville Walmart employee.

The act would require employees to provide coverage to anyone working 30 hours or more a week. But protesters say Walmart is cutting ours to avoid the mandate.

"We live paycheck to paycheck," said Andridge. "I make $12.05 cents an hour, but of course, I've been there for 8 years and with my hours getting cut it's a hard struggle."

Andridge says even if she got enough hours to qualify for benefits, she would still have to make an important decision.

"If we get the hours to qualify for it, we make so little that it's a decision that's really hard to make. Winter clothes or health benefits? Food on the table or health benefits? I'm tired of struggling," she said.

Protesters tell CBS13 the loophole encourages the state's biggest employers to avoid penalties for failing to provide employees with healthcare under the affordable care act.

"Walmart is the most profitable company in America -- should be paying its fair share and shouldn't be dumping workers onto tax payers funded programs like medical so us tax payers have to carry that burden," said Steve Smith of California Labor Federation.

And that message even changed the mind of one Walmart customer.

"One of our volunteers, Glenn, he was talking with a person who was going to be a Walmart customer before he talked to him long enough and he actually turned him away by explaining the issues," said Sara Walling of the Sacramento Central Labor Council.

The protesters' next stop is a Walmart in Stockton followed by one in Fresno. They'll continue rounds around the state.

In response to the protest, Walmart officials say "We're confident in the competitive nature of our wages and benefits."

Walmart also says they provide more than 1 million Walmart associates and family members covered by Walmart health care plans with access to affordable comprehensive medical coverage.

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