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Group protests Wal-Mart's taxes, health coverage

Four people came to the William Street post office on Tuesday, tax deadline day, to pass out fliers and talk about their opposition to what they described as Wal-Mart's low tax payment rates, low wages and low rates of covering its employees with health insurance.

"People are paying their fair share of taxes, why isn't Wal-Mart?" said Mark Manna, an Amherst town council candidate and organizer with the United Food & Commercial Workers' Union, which represents Tops supermarket employees.

He and three others gathered at the post office parking lot with brochures from WakeUpWalMart.com.

Two years ago the United Food union used its money to launch the protest organization, which reported coordinating 70 similar gatherings nationwide Tuesday.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said that while protesters say taxpayers pay extra to fund the Medicaid insurance that covers a portion of Wal-Mart employees, the company saves its shoppers some $2,300 a year per family.

"We think that tax day is the perfect day to reflect on all the contributions that Wal-Mart makes," said David Tovar, director of media relations at the chain's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

e-mail: mkearns@buffnews.com

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