Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Health Care in a Box

The Times and Newsday are reporting today on Suffolk County's passage of the "Fair Share for Health Care Act", a bill that would require big box stores such as Wal-Mart, BJ's and Target to pay $3/hr towards an employees health care benefits. The measure mirrors the HCSA that was passed in NYC and which will be facing an override fight on October 11th at the NY City Council (Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the bill claiming that it violated Federal law).

In an interesting comment on the bill, Wal-Mart spokesman Philip Serghini actually said the following:
We are concerned that the health care bill passed a kind of hidden tax that runs counter to Wal-Mart's commitment to everyday low prices
Well there it is folks, a Wal-Mart rep making the direct link between the companies lack of health care coverage and its concomitant ability to keep retail prices low. A clearer presentation of the level playing field argument couldn't have been made more persuasively by a UFCW supporter.

Which brings us to the veto battle in NYC. Talks are being set up between the bill's sponsor, Chris Quinn, and reps from the city's smaller independent supermarkets. These grocers feel that the thresholds in the bill – 10,000sq. ft. and 35 employees –are too low and target neighborhood retailers almost more than the retail giants. Labor supporters of the bill indicate that they are willing to amend the measure but no agreement has been reached on any changes.