War on Wal-Mart comes to Georgia.

Recently, the Maryland legislature passed a law requiring Wal-Mart and other large employers to pay at least 8% of payroll on health care for employees. Now a similar bill has been proposed in Georgia:

The Fair Share Health Care Act is patterned after a Maryland law that was enacted over the governor’s veto and has spawned similar legislative attempts in more than 30 states.

Wal-Mart is the only large company in Maryland known to fall short of the 8 percent spending requirement. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is Georgia’s largest private employer.

“This is not about bashing Wal-Mart,” said State Sen. Steen Miles (D-Decatur), sponsor of the Senate bill. “It’s about children, affordable health care and unfair burdens on the taxpayers of Georgia.”

Miles and Rep. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), sponsor of an identical House bill, cited a 2002 state survey that found 10,261 children covered by Georgia’s PeachCare for Kids health insurance had a parent working forWal-Mart. The survey was disclosed in a 2004 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.

Wal-Mart, which employs more than 50,000 workers in the state, said that bills such as Maryland’s ”are bad public policy and won’t improve access to health coverage or control the soaring cost of health care.”

They would also cost jobs, said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Kelly Hobbs.

“Labor union leaders have been unsuccessful at forcing our associates to unionize, so they have devised a multimillion-dollar campaign to slow downWal-Mart’s growth,” she said.

Labor Unions and others on the political left have made this effort a top priority. They’ve launched website such as Wal-Mart Watch and Wake-Up Wal-Mart to spread the word on the evils of Wal-Mart. Miles and Orrock want to fight the fight here in Georgia.

My free advice to Georgia Democrats is to drop this like a hot potato. More government control of business is not the way to go.

7 comments

  1. Rusty says:

    Why does everything have to be a war? Just curious. War on drugs… war on terror… war on Christmas… war on Wal*Mart…

    It’s as hackneyed and hyperbolic as tacking “gate” on the end of the scandal de jour.

    Wal*Mart deserves most of the bad press they get, though I think they’ve been singled out compared to some other companies with similar business practices simply because they’re currently the industry front runner.

    That said, I don’t know if I want this sort of legislation across 50 states yet without the effects being known. I would prefer that Maryland experiment with it to study the impact on its communities (both from a health and economic perspective). Philosophically, I don’t object to it.

  2. Melb says:

    I think it is hilarious that Lakly said that they would take their jobs elsewhere like Alabama. Sure they will. Wal-Mart will pick up every store in Georgia and move to Alabama or S. Carolina to avoid those pesky health insurance mandates, yeah right!

  3. GaMongrel says:

    …cited a 2002 state survey that found 10,261 children covered by Georgia’s PeachCare for Kids health insurance had a parent working forWal-Mart.

    So, the fact that those children are covered by Peach Care is a problem? Or is it the fact that those parents chose to work at Wal-mart a place that everyone knows doesn’t provide health insurance.

  4. John Konop says:

    The problem is we are facing wages going flat, healthcare is growing 3 to 4 times faster then wages. American small business is competeing against China slave labor. This causes well meaning businessman to hire illegal immigrants, legal immigrants or outsource oveseas to compete with slave wages. This is a race to the bottom , which will destroy the middle class.

    We all think the products are cheap at Wal-Mart. How cheap are they with us stuck with the healthcare,schools…. ?

  5. atlantaman says:

    The thing to keep in mind is that Wal-Mart does not operate in a vacum. If you raise their costs then there will have to be an adverse reaction. 4 reactions come to my mind (or a combination of them):

    1. Company pays for insurance while allowing corporate profits to go down. Stock price is reduced accordingly and shareholders are punished. Wal-Mart is a very widely held stock so retirement funds, pension funds, etc.. will be affected.

    2. Company cuts costs somewhere else to make up for increased costs. Employee wages or jobs will be cut. Or they might be forced to buy even more low costs products from other countries.

    3. Company raises prices. Folks that can barely make ends meet will now be forced to pay an increase for standard household items at Wal-Mart.

    4. It certain communities, where a particular store was breaking even, the store will be closed. Folks in that community will be forced to drive to a more profitable Wal-Mart in another community.

    I know there has been quite a bit of animosity developing toward Wal-Mart. I suppose if you are going to blame anyone for the low cost structure at Wal-Mart it would be the American consumer and his never ending appetite for low cost products.

  6. John Konop says:

    Atlantaman,

    The pension funds are going down and taxpayers are stuck with that bill.

    The healthcare cost of 43 million Americans and 20 million illegal immigrants is passed on to us who have health insurance. Which is why the cost of healthcare is growing 4 times faster than wages.

    The cost of schools is 10k per student, on average. Who do you think is paying for this ?

    Social Security and Medicare are going broke, which are budgetary items that can never be satisfied under the current system.

    The savings rate for American families has gone from 11% to a NEGATIVE 1% since the early 1990’s (Post NAFTA).

    The U.S. trade deficite is north of 700 billion dollars and growing. Warren Buffet and Alan Greenspan have issued warnings that this cannot keep happening.

    31% of consumer spending is Americans using their homes as a credit card via refinancing. Due to a combination of consumer and national debt, interest rates are going up.

    The second largest item on the budget is interest to service the national debt (close to 400 billion).

    Both parties have created a socialist system that is bankrupting our country. For example: You cannot support a system where we give away free services like healthcare and not charge users. You cannot compete with 50 cent an hour slave labor in Communist China and not expect the gutting of our middle class. Wal-Mart is a symptom not the whole problem.

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