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Wal-Mart Fights Maryland Law Mandating Minimus Level of Health Benefit Spending

SuzannePjamSuzannePjam Posts: 411
edited June 2006 in A Moving Train
'Wal-Mart Bill' Assailed Before Judge

By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 24, 2006; D01


A U.S. district judge in Baltimore yesterday heard arguments over the validity of Maryland's controversial law requiring large companies -- namely Wal-Mart -- to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health benefits.

At issue was whether the state legislation is preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which sets minimum standards for private companies' voluntary pension and health plans. The state law was enacted earlier this year despite a veto attempt by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The Maryland law applies to four companies with at least 10,000 employees in Maryland: Northrop Grumman Corp., Giant Food LLC, Johns Hopkins University and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. But all except Wal-Mart were exempted from the law or have already met its provisions, resulting in the nickname "Wal-Mart bill" as the legislature deliberated over it.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which filed the legal challenge and counts Wal-Mart among its members, said the law unfairly targets the world's largest retailer. The association also argued that the law restricts the way businesses provide health benefits for their employees.

"This law is highly discriminatory," said Eugene Scalia, the group's attorney and son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Judge J. Frederick Motz shot back: "In cases where people have been targeted, they've generally been vulnerable."

State Assistant Attorney General Gary W. Kuc denied that the legislation was intended to single out Wal-Mart. He also noted that the law gives companies the option of paying into a state insurance plan for the poor or setting up first-aid clinics for employees instead of increasing health benefits.

The state also questioned whether the retail association had standing to challenge the law, which does not take effect until Jan. 1. But association President Sandra L. Kennedy said that the law has the potential to affect all of the retailers the group represents.

"I think it's an industry issue," she said.

Motz said he would consider the possible national implications of his ruling, which could help determine how much power local governments have in setting health and economic policy.

The case is being watched closely by Suffolk County in New York, which is considering legislation similar to Maryland's, and Massachusetts, which recently passed a universal health-care bill.

Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, an advocacy group that pushed for the Maryland bill, said overturning it would "prevent other states from doing what needs to be done on this issue."

Motz indicated that he would rule soon but gave no timeline for his decision.

©*2006*The Washington Post Company
"Where there is sacrifice there is someone collecting the sacrificial offerings."-- Ayn Rand

"Some of my friends sit around every evening and they worry about the times ahead,
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference and the promise of an early bed..."-- Elvis Costello
Post edited by Unknown User on
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Comments

  • Fuck this law.
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    why fuck this law? do you not care about other human beings? it's not like the people who would benefit from this aren't working full-time...possibly with kids.
  • ryan198 wrote:
    why fuck this law? do you not care about other human beings?

    I certainly care about other human beings. That's why I don't want to see people forced to live by a different set of laws just because they happen to have a successful business.
    it's not like the people who would benefit from this aren't working full-time...possibly with kids.

    And the people punished by this law...
  • Fuck this law.

    ahhhhh, this made my day.
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • ahhhhh, this made my day.

    Glad I could help.
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    the people being "punished" from this law have seen tax reductions and pay raises in the past 30 years that have resulted in the richest 358 people in the world making as much as the poorest 2.3 BILLION...how can you possibly justify a wealthy businessperson (who's company has in the past been known to exploit labor in the United States illegally, not to mention what they do in South America) making more money vs. people who are working just as hard getting health care benefits? I just don't get it.
  • Glad I could help.

    I know you are.
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • soulsingingsoulsinging Posts: 13,211
    Fuck this law.

    ive got to agree with you. i loathe walmart, i dislike their business practices and pretty much everything they do. but this law is ridiculous.
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    can someone produce sound justifications with numbers, etc. to explain to me why this law sucks and/or who is hurt by it, as compaired to who benefits from it? I just don't get the hate for this law....Wal-Mart is a brutal company, with highly questionable practices, and this law is the first step our government is taking towards making up for 30 years of ridiculousness.
  • ryan198 wrote:
    the people being "punished" from this law have seen tax reductions and pay raises in the past 30 years that have resulted in the richest 358 people in the world making as much as the poorest 2.3 BILLION...

    So what you're saying is that the reason the Waltons are so rich is because of their tax breaks? If, for example, you got those tax breaks you would be in those 358 people? As for their tax pay raises, where do you think that money comes from? And how is it generated?

    Do you also realize that, even with those "tax reductions", the people you're lampooning here have paid more in taxes in one year than you'll pay in a lifetime?
    how can you possibly justify a wealthy businessperson (who's company has in the past been known to exploit labor in the United States illegally, not to mention what they do in South America) making more money vs. people who are working just as hard getting health care benefits?

    I'm no friend of Wal-Mart's. I won't spend a dime there. But I'm not going to pretend that people aren't working there and shopping there willingly. I'm also not going to pretend that the state of Maryland is not stealing this money.
    I just don't get it.

    Remember slavery? A lot of people benefited from slavery. But that doesn't make it right. Do you get that?
  • soulsingingsoulsinging Posts: 13,211
    ryan198 wrote:
    can someone produce sound justifications with numbers, etc. to explain to me why this law sucks and/or who is hurt by it, as compaired to who benefits from it? I just don't get the hate for this law....Wal-Mart is a brutal company, with highly questionable practices, and this law is the first step our government is taking towards making up for 30 years of ridiculousness.

    what if the government told you you had to spend 8% of your paycheck on health care? and then decided you also had to eat well and so 5% has to go to groceries at only home good stores. then to keep you in shape, 5% has to go to gym membership. in fact, from now on, they will just spend your money for you, in your best interests.

    that's what i dont like about it. i know it wont hurt walmart, but i dont like the idea of the government dictating anybody's spending, be it walmart or me or you.
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025

    Do you also realize that, even with those "tax reductions", the people you're lampooning here have paid more in taxes in one year than you'll pay in a lifetime?

    Yes I do realize this, but, quite simply since the very rich have received so many tax reductions/kickbacks etc. the standard of living for our poor has dropped, while the very rich have continued to get more rich.

    I'm no friend of Wal-Mart's. I won't spend a dime there. But I'm not going to pretend that people aren't working there and shopping there willingly. I'm also not going to pretend that the state of Maryland is not stealing this money.

    I'm not sure I follow you here...who says wal-mart has earned this money fairly anyway? Secondly, shopping/working at Wal-Mart, willingly is a pretty loaded term considering Wal-Mart has done more to harm local businesses than any other company in the country, thereby forcing many to work for them for cheaper, for more hours (illegally), and quite forcefully stamps out any efforts for labor unions. Given a choice to willingly work and own your own business or work in those conditions what would you choose? Secondly, shopping there isn't necessarily a willing thing either, but given that the poor are making less and less, doesn't it make sense that they would be forced to shop there at some level?
    Remember slavery? A lot of people benefited from slavery. But that doesn't make it right. Do you get that?

    It's funny that you point to slavery to justify Wal-Mart making more money, considering they have been successfully sued several times for forcing unpaid overtime on their employees...HA!
  • ryan198 wrote:
    can someone produce sound justifications with numbers, etc. to explain to me why this law sucks and/or who is hurt by it, as compaired to who benefits from it?

    Here's a number for you: 1. That's how many organizations this law is applied to. Maryland designed this law for one organization alone. How would you feel if the government woke up one day and said, "I don't really like that ryan198, let's make him play by a different set of rules."

    Here's another number for you: $315,654,000,000. That's how much Wal-Mart's revenue will likely be for this year. That number represents the hard earned dollars of a lot of poor people who shop at Wal-Mart for one reason: their low prices allow them to put a little money aside that they wouldn't be able to otherwise. Where do you think those low prices come from?

    Here's another number for you: 111,279. That's how many unemployed people there are in Maryland. How many companies are really going to be looking at Maryland as a location if the government continues to make arbitray and capricious laws like this?
    I just don't get the hate for this law....Wal-Mart is a brutal company, with highly questionable practices, and this law is the first step our government is taking towards making up for 30 years of ridiculousness.

    And that's the role of government, in your eyes? If you feel that way, why not just send in the military?
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    what if the government told you you had to spend 8% of your paycheck on health care? and then decided you also had to eat well and so 5% has to go to groceries at only home good stores. then to keep you in shape, 5% has to go to gym membership. in fact, from now on, they will just spend your money for you, in your best interests.

    that's what i dont like about it. i know it wont hurt walmart, but i dont like the idea of the government dictating anybody's spending, be it walmart or me or you.

    Soulsinging for the most part I understand your argument, but where we disagree is that you AND THE LAW equate Wal-Mart (a corporation) with human beings. Yes I understand that Wal-Mart is owned by many people, but to give it "human rights" is quite silly in my mind.
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    Here's a number for you: 1. That's how many organizations this law is applied to. Maryland designed this law for one organization alone. How would you feel if the government woke up one day and said, "I don't really like that ryan198, let's make him play by a different set of rules."

    Here's another number for you: $315,654,000,000. That's how much Wal-Mart's revenue will likely be for this year. That number represents the hard earned dollars of a lot of poor people who shop at Wal-Mart for one reason: their low prices allow them to put a little money aside that they wouldn't be able to otherwise. Where do you think those low prices come from?

    Here's another number for you: 111,279. That's how many unemployed people there are in Maryland. How many companies are really going to be looking at Maryland as a location if the government continues to make arbitray and capricious laws like this?



    And that's the role of government, in your eyes? If you feel that way, why not just send in the military?

    1. Again you are equating Wal-Mart, a corporation, with a human being, in this case me, I don't agree with that comparisson.

    2. The low prices come from exploiting the same poor people that are purchasing food/clothing from them...it's quite ironic don't you think?

    3. The f-d up thing about this whole system is that corporations actually hold more power in this country than the people.

    4. To be honest the military would be more justified in blowing up Wal-Mart than they do being in Iraq. It's pretty clear which of the two has (in)directly hurt more people and the answer isn't iraq.
  • ryan19 wrote:
    Yes I do realize this, but, quite simply since the very rich have received so many tax reductions/kickbacks etc. the standard of living for our poor has dropped, while the very rich have continued to get more rich.

    Did it ever occur to you that the reason the rich continue to get more rich has nothing to do with taxation?
    I'm not sure I follow you here...who says wal-mart has earned this money fairly anyway?

    Every sinlge person that spends money there.
    Secondly, shopping/working at Wal-Mart, willingly is a pretty loaded term considering Wal-Mart has done more to harm local businesses than any other company in the country, thereby forcing many to work for them for cheaper, for more hours (illegally), and quite forcefully stamps out any efforts for labor unions.

    You may remove the word "force" from your statement above. Wal-Mart did not force any of the above. Wal-Mart does not burn down local businesses. Wal-Mart does enslave any of their workers, though they certainly don't treat those employees very well.

    For every action Wal-Mart took to put a local business out of business, local consumers had to take a complimentary action. Should those consumers be punished? For every action Wal-Mark took to mistreat their employees, local workers had to take a complimentary action. Should those workers by punished?

    Wal-Mart has no obligation to allow workers to unionize, assuming they are not resorting to violence to stop them. Workers have every right to leave Wal-Mart and unionize elsewhere, and consumers have every right to stop supporting Wal-Mart's actions.
    Given a choice to willingly work and own your own business or work in those conditions what would you choose?

    My own business. That's why I don't work at Wal-Mart.
    Secondly, shopping there isn't necessarily a willing thing either, but given that the poor are making less and less, doesn't it make sense that they would be forced to shop there at some level?

    No, that doesn't make sense.
    It's funny that you point to slavery to justify Wal-Mart making more money, considering they have been successfully sued several times for forcing unpaid overtime on their employees...HA!

    And that equates to slavery to you??? Let me know when Wal-Mart starts deliberately physically abusing their employees as a corporate policy. Let me know when Wal-Mart starts deliberately lynching their employees as a corporate policy. Let me know when Wal-Mart stops allowing employees to quit.
  • ryan198 wrote:
    1. Again you are equating Wal-Mart, a corporation, with a human being, in this case me, I don't agree with that comparisson.

    Ok, cool. Then I'll stop considering labor unions human beings either then.
    2. The low prices come from exploiting the same poor people that are purchasing food/clothing from them...it's quite ironic don't you think?

    Not really, considering how so many of them would completely disagree with your assessment.
    3. The f-d up thing about this whole system is that corporations actually hold more power in this country than the people.

    How can something that isn't a human being hold power over human government?
    4. To be honest the military would be more justified in blowing up Wal-Mart than they do being in Iraq. It's pretty clear which of the two has (in)directly hurt more people and the answer isn't iraq.

    Wow. I'm certainly not here to defend the Iraq war, but the fact that you think Wal-Mart has hurt more people than the previous administration in Iraq really says a lot.
  • ryan198 wrote:
    Soulsinging for the most part I understand your argument, but where we disagree is that you AND THE LAW equate Wal-Mart (a corporation) with human beings. Yes I understand that Wal-Mart is owned by many people, but to give it "human rights" is quite silly in my mind.

    Ok, then when it comes time to pay your tax, who pays it?
  • surferdudesurferdude Posts: 2,057
    ryan198 wrote:
    1. Again you are equating Wal-Mart, a corporation, with a human being, in this case me, I don't agree with that comparisson.
    In the eyes of the aw they are very much the same thing and for very good reasons. Government is supposed to dictate spending through taxation. This is a case of a government too afraid to dowhat they are mandated to do, and accordingly I hope this law is overturned and Wal-Mart sues Maryland's ass.
    ryan198 wrote:
    2. The low prices come from exploiting the same poor people that are purchasing food/clothing from them...it's quite ironic don't you think?
    Don't shop there. Don't accept gifts bought from there. Be principaled. Convince other people why they should adopt these same principals. Lobby the Maryland government to increase payroll taxes so Maryland can offer universal healthcare.
    ryan198 wrote:
    3. The f-d up thing about this whole system is that corporations actually hold more power in this country than the people.
    So lobby to change the rules. Corporations can't vote and in the end it is the voters who have the power. Harness that power. Use that power. But please don't applaud when a government has made poor, discriminatory law.
    ryan198 wrote:
    4. To be honest the military would be more justified in blowing up Wal-Mart than they do being in Iraq. It's pretty clear which of the two has (in)directly hurt more people and the answer isn't iraq.
    If people didn't choose to shop at Wal-Mart then there wouldn't be a problem. The people have spoken and they don't give a shit about the Wal-Mart employees, all they care about is getting their's at a discouinted price. Wanting the government to step and by a conscience that people have decided they don't want is bush league.

    How would you feel if Bush and co. enacted a law that negatively affected only Democrats? Would you support this law if it meant increased healthcare spending?
    “One good thing about music,
    when it hits you, you feel to pain.
    So brutalize me with music.”
    ~ Bob Marley
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    Did it ever occur to you that the reason the rich continue to get more rich has nothing to do with taxation?

    And that equates to slavery to you??? Let me know when Wal-Mart starts deliberately physically abusing their employees as a corporate policy. Let me know when Wal-Mart starts deliberately lynching their employees as a corporate policy. Let me know when Wal-Mart stops allowing employees to quit.

    1. The rich continuing to get more rich has a LOT to do with taxation ... there have been clear corralations with this in many countries over the past 30 or so years, which is when the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc. took over and stopped serving the interests of the many in regard to the few.

    2. Physical abuse may not happen in the United States, but in Wal-Mart supplying factories around the world it happens everyday. Wal-Mart also has a corporate policy that threatens, blackballs, and otherwise mentally intimidates employees to work extra for no pay, and not to unionize. If that doesn't dance on the line of illegality and since the definition of slavery is to work for someone without compensation that too.
  • surferdudesurferdude Posts: 2,057
    ryan198 wrote:
    since the definition of slavery is to work for someone without compensation that too.
    Wow so I'm a slave when I'm doing volunteer work. Interesting.
    “One good thing about music,
    when it hits you, you feel to pain.
    So brutalize me with music.”
    ~ Bob Marley
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    surferdude wrote:
    In the eyes of the aw they are very much the same thing and for very good reasons. Government is supposed to dictate spending through taxation. This is a case of a government too afraid to dowhat they are mandated to do, and accordingly I hope this law is overturned and Wal-Mart sues Maryland's ass.

    Don't shop there. Don't accept gifts bought from there. Be principaled. Convince other people why they should adopt these same principals. Lobby the Maryland government to increase payroll taxes so Maryland can offer universal healthcare.

    So lobby to change the rules. Corporations can't vote and in the end it is the voters who have the power. Harness that power. Use that power. But please don't applaud when a government has made poor, discriminatory law.


    If people didn't choose to shop at Wal-Mart then there wouldn't be a problem. The people have spoken and they don't give a shit about the Wal-Mart employees, all they care about is getting their's at a discouinted price. Wanting the government to step and by a conscience that people have decided they don't want is bush league.

    How would you feel if Bush and co. enacted a law that negatively affected only Democrats? Would you support this law if it meant increased healthcare spending?


    1. It's to my understanding that other companies are getting hit by this...Wal-Mart just is getting the large brunt of it...but then again this is the company that puts instructions for welfare in their employee lunchrooms.

    2. By participating on this board am I not doing some of what you are saying. If a law comes around that forces Wal-Mart to pay back some of what it has, in many cases, illegally earned then so be it.

    3. That's what I am doing!

    4. Choosing to shop at Wal-Mart is not what many people WANT to do

    5. Increased healthcare at the expense of say Pearl Jam LLC would not hurt my feelings.
  • ryan198 wrote:
    1. The rich continuing to get more rich has a LOT to do with taxation ... there have been clear corralations with this in many countries over the past 30 or so years, which is when the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc. took over and stopped serving the interests of the many in regard to the few.

    2. Physical abuse may not happen in the United States, but in Wal-Mart supplying factories around the world it happens everyday. Wal-Mart also has a corporate policy that threatens, blackballs, and otherwise mentally intimidates employees to work extra for no pay, and not to unionize. If that doesn't dance on the line of illegality and since the definition of slavery is to work for someone without compensation that too.


    There are many here, such as I, who agree with you but don't care to go rounds and rounds with some people who have a different ideology. It seems like some here can never agree to disagree...their way is the only way it can be seen properly and that just gets not be not worth the time after a while.

    ***applauds new law***
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    surferdude wrote:
    Wow so I'm a slave when I'm doing volunteer work. Interesting.
    Good point...against your will should have also been added, and I'm pretty sure forced unpaid overtime is against many people's will no?
  • ryan198 wrote:
    1. The rich continuing to get more rich has a LOT to do with taxation ... there have been clear corralations with this in many countries over the past 30 or so years, which is when the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc. took over and stopped serving the interests of the many in regard to the few.

    Those "clear correlations" you speak of have little to do with taxes but nearly everything to do with one of two things:

    - The ability of the rich to provide a service that people are willing to pay for
    - The ability of a segment of the population to use the IMF, World Bank, WTO etc as a tool of theft, murder and deception.

    The first applies to Wal-Mart, at least in the context of Maryland workers.
    2. Physical abuse may not happen in the United States, but in Wal-Mart supplying factories around the world it happens everyday.

    To some extent, yes. But this law does nothing to stop that or prevent it. If anything, it makes it even more attractive.
    Wal-Mart also has a corporate policy that threatens, blackballs, and otherwise mentally intimidates employees to work extra for no pay, and not to unionize.

    Certainly. Again, this law does nothing to stop that or prevent it.
    If that doesn't dance on the line of illegality and since the definition of slavery is to work for someone without compensation that too.

    Um....the definition of slavery is to work for someone against their will based on force. And that applies here more to the Government's actions than it does to Wal-Mart.
  • ryan198 wrote:
    I'm pretty sure forced unpaid overtime is against many people's will no?

    No. That's like suggesting it's slavery because you're boss won't give you the 50% raise you want.

    Forced unpaid overtime is bullshit. It's not slavery, because it's countered by the employees ability to tell Wal-Mart to shove it.
  • No. That's like suggesting it's slavery because you're boss won't give you the 50% raise you want.

    Forced unpaid overtime is bullshit. It's not slavery, because it's countered by the employees ability to tell Wal-Mart to shove it.

    and then they can eat the leather off their shoes for dinner...light a match for heat...you know the drill.
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    I can see your points but where I disagree is that I feel like anytime Wal-Mart gets punished it's a good thing. Secondly, taxing corporations is a good thing to, but again this is where we disagree.
  • El_KabongEl_Kabong Posts: 4,141
    and then they can eat the leather off their shoes for dinner...light a match for heat...you know the drill.


    nope, don't you remember farfromsympathetic's financial plan?? a family of 4 or more can live a month off of 5lbs of hamburger meat!!!
    10 loaves of bread: ~$20
    5 lbs of hamburger: ~$15
    3 lbs of cheese: ~$15
    10 gallons of milk: ~$30
    Ingredients for granola: ~$30
    Various grains/proteins: ~$30
    Juices: ~$30
    Various Vegatables: ~$30
    standin above the crowd
    he had a voice that was strong and loud and
    i swallowed his facade cos i'm so
    eager to identify with
    someone above the crowd
    someone who seemed to feel the same
    someone prepared to lead the way
  • ryan198ryan198 Posts: 1,025
    No. That's like suggesting it's slavery because you're boss won't give you the 50% raise you want.

    Forced unpaid overtime is bullshit. It's not slavery, because it's countered by the employees ability to tell Wal-Mart to shove it.
    Then they fire you and bring in the next poor schlub...it's the time-honored Wal-Mart way. They have been sued over this many, many times successfully. Unfortunately they still haven't changed.
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