05 March 2006

More About Wal-Mart

Costco Wholesale Corp. outpaced Wal- Mart Stores Inc.'s Sam's Club in same-store sales for 11 consecutive quarters.

Analysis: Not treating workers and customers like shit works.

While Rep. Judy Solano's (D-Brighton), HB 1316, which would have required employers with 3,500 or more employees to pay at least 11% of their payroll on health insurance (most notably impacting Wal-Mart) failed, a similar bill in Maryland passed and the result has been that Wal-Mart has begun the process of increasing health insurance coverage for its employees nationwide, albeit incrementally.

Wal-Mart is in retreat on other fronts as well. By March 20 of this year (in part because it was forced by Massachusetts and Illinois to do so), it will begin stocking Plan B emergency contraception in its pharmacies, despite an earlier knee jerk reaction in 1999 to conservative pressure to ban the drug from its pharamacies, which left it the only pharmacy chain in the county to do so.

"We expect more states to require us to sell emergency contraceptives in the months ahead," said Ron Chomiuk, vice president of pharmacy for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart.

"Because of this, and the fact that this is an FDA-approved product, we feel it is difficult to justify being the country's only major pharmacy chain not selling it."

Meanwhile, a wedge is opening in conservative circles, with whom Wal-Mart is associated, as "crunchy conservatives" increasingly find common cause with liberal ideas like eating organic and buying local from independent stores, resisting the mainstream consumer culture and untrampled laissez-faire economics that Republicans traditionally have favored. It is is natural wedge. A party of the affluent inevitably has many members who are parts of the "elites" that they criticize on Fox and Talk Radio and in stump speeches. Can a Republicans Against Wal-Mart organization be far off?

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