Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wal-Mart: Fire Your Greeters

From The Washington Post:

The Maryland Senate today bucked the will of the state's Republican governor and the nation's largest retailer, voting to require Wal-Mart effectively to spend more on employee health care.

In a vote that was closely watched nationally, the Democratic-led chamber overrode Gov. Robert L. Erhlich Jr.'s veto by 30-17...

The Democrat-led House was expected to follow suit tonight, handing Ehrlich Jr. a defeat early in the legislative session on a bill he argues is an unwarranted government intrusion into business.

The bill would require private companies with more than 10,000 employees in Maryland to spend at least 8 percent of payroll on employee health benefits or make a contribution to the state's insurance program for the poor. Wal-Mart is the only known employer that does not meet that spending requirement.

Wal-Mart should to three things because of this bill:
  1. Fire all of its greeters. This is an essentially useless position that does nothing but provide jobs to people that would otherwise be unemployed. Let the all-knowing state take care of them.

  2. Cut wages. The workers who are left will be now paid more money indirectly. Cut their wages in proportion to any gained benefits.

  3. Raise prices. The poorer residents of Maryland who shop at Wal-Mart can start paying for their peers' health care.
As a policy matter, this bill is ridiculous. It targets one company to the exclusion of all others and micromanages the labor relations of a company that provides jobs, goods, and services to the poorest Americans. As a Post editorial pointed out:

The Maryland bill is a legislative mugging masquerading as an act of benevolent social engineering.
Now is anyone out there watching the Target lobbyists?

Update, Jan. 14th: New details on Wal-Mart's potential legal and business responses.

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April said...

I hope Wal-Mart takes this to court.

JJH said...

Why bother? They should just pull out of Maryland altogether. Let the bastards pay higher prices at other retail outlets.

Nick said...

I've posted an update on the possible responses here.