Maryland Voters Want Wal-Mart to Pay More for Healthcare
By George Anderson
The results of a new study released by Zogby International shows that two-thirds of Maryland residents want the state’s lawmakers to overturn Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s veto of the so-called Wal-Mart bill.
The proposed legislation would require all companies with 10,000 or more employees to set aside at least eight percent of payroll to cover healthcare benefits. Wal-Mart is the only company currently operating in Maryland that the bill would apply to.
A spokesperson for Wal-Mart said the poll commissioned by a group opposed to Wal-Mart’s business practices, Wake Up Wal-Mart, is slanted.
Nate Hurst told Bloomberg News, “This piece of legislation is neither fair nor a health-care bill. It’s just the latest tactic by organized labor to try and slow down our growth.”
“The feedback we are receiving from people across the state is that they think this legislation is a bad idea,” said Mr. Hurst. “More and more small businesses are coming forward and realizing the dangerous precedent this bill sets.”
Groups opposed to Wal-Mart are hoping to put pressure on Maryland lawmakers to override Gov. Ehrlich’s veto by pointing to one of the Zogby findings. According to the study, 74 percent said lawmaker’s vote on this issue will have either “a great deal” or “some” influence on how they vote in statewide elections next year.
Thirty-one other states, according to Bloomberg, are considering similar legislation to that proposed in Maryland.
In a separate announcement, Wal-Mart said yesterday that it created over 125,000 new jobs in the U.S. in 2005 and that the average hourly wage it pays to full-time associates in its store rose from $9.68 to $10.11 during the same time frame.
Lawrence Jackson, executive vice president for the People Division for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., said in a released statement, “When we open a store, we often receive thousands of applications for just a few hundred jobs. That’s because working men and women know that our jobs pay competitive wages, and offer quality benefits, including affordable health insurance, and career growth opportunities.”
Wal-Mart maintains that every associate is eligible for health benefits for as little as $11 a month. The waiting period for associates to join, said the company, is in line with the policies of its competitors.
Moderator’s Comment: What will happen if the Maryland legislature overrides Gov. Robert Erhlich’s veto of the Wal-Mart bill? –
George Anderson – Moderator
- Poll: Maryland residents back bill targeting Wal-Mart – Bloomberg
- Wal-Mart Creates Over 125,000 New Jobs in 2005 – Wal-Mart Stores