Friday, January 13, 2006

The Maryland Solution

I'm usually not a fan of boycotts, but I'm about to make an exception for Wal-Mart. You may have noticed, like I have, the seemingly endless stream of reports and accusations about how the company treats its employees: Un-equal pay for women, and discrimination against them in promotion. Forcing employees to work during lunch and after clock-out. Paying people less than they need to afford the Company's own employee health care.

The final straw has come to me amidst a bit of good news, that the state of Maryland has passed a law (over a Republican veto, of course) that requires all large companies in the state to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on medical coverage for employees, or compensate the state's Medicare fund instead.

The story pointed out that Wal-Mart is, in fact, Maryland's only large company that currently spends less than 8 percent of payroll on medical care.

It turns out that the company believes that it doesn't have to spend a lot on medical coverage because the employees have an alternative: the taxpayer-funded Medicare program for the poor. That's right: the nation's largest and most profitable retailer is shortchanging their own employees, and expecting the taxpayers to make up for it.

So that's all for me. I'm never shopping at a Wal-Mart again, and I would urge everyone who cares about corporate responsibility, lower taxation, workers' rights, and human dignity to do the same.

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