Friday, July 28, 2006

Wal-Mart: From the Windy City to the Big Apple

The New York Times weighs in today on Chicago's decision to require large retailers including Wal-Mart to pay better wages and offer more substantial benefits to its employees. It first offers harsh words to Wal-Mart concerning how its obsession with profits has a negative impact on workers and publicly-funded safety net programs:
While the company’s obsession with the bottom line has made it a huge international success, its meager health benefits often leave public hospitals and government programs for the poor paying the bill instead. And as the giant retailer begins to saturate suburban neighborhoods and turn its attention toward cities, it is important to point out that urban residents cannot survive on the company’s traditional low wages.
The Times then goes on to say that while Chicago's measure is a start a more national approach to wages and health care benefits needs to be undertaken. We understand this rationale but considering that such a solution, if ever feasible, is years away more local approaches are needed.

In terms of New York City, the Crain's Insider reports that a Chicago-style law is not in the city's future because wage statutes are under the purview of the state. Regardless, due to the tremendous support of the City Council and Speaker Quinn, such legislation is not necessary for New York City has and will continue to prevent the Wal-Monster invasion.