Legal news for Washington health and law litigation.

NRF slams Wal-Mart claiming retail giant bullies small business owners.

Washington, D.C.–On Monday, July 13, 2009, the National Retail Federation (NRF) http://www.nrf.com/ launched an attack against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., citing Wal-Mart’s support of the proposed congressional plan. The new medical plan would require retail employers to aid in employee healthcare insurance, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. In an open letter to the NRF members from the CEO and president of the federation, Tracy Mullins states, “the health care debate is the idea of an employer mandate provision, which would be catastrophic for our industry. Mandates would drive up costs for retailers while doing nothing to address waste, inefficiencies and lack of competition. Ultimately, employers forced to spend more on insurance would have little choice but to reduce payrolls or raise prices – and that’s the last thing retail employees or shoppers need right now…When Wal-Mart sent a letter to President Obama two weeks ago supporting government mandates on businesses as a part of reform, the retail industry was astonished. Seeing the company in lock-step with the unions on this issue was troubling to say the least. Although the move may provide a short-term public relations boost to Wal-Mart, it could have long-lasting, devastating consequences to retailers throughout the country.”

The NRF has sent the strongly worded letter to its member’s nation-wide urging them to take a stand against Wal-Mart’s endorsement of the employer healthcare proposal. The proposal would require all employers, with the exception of small employers, to supply all retail workers with basic benefits or contribute at least 8% of their payroll towards the government, who then will be helping their employees receive coverage. Wal-Mart believes the proposal can be beneficial to its bottom line, but only if it helps reduce the rising nation-wide healthcare expenses. Wal-Mart currently offers healthcare to 52% of its workforce. Some industry annalist’s believe Wal-Mart’s position on the proposal is a political tactic, which will boost its competitive advantage against competing retailers, and of course boosting their national image.

The National Retail Federation is the main lobbyist for the retail industry, which is made up of 1.6 million retail businesses with 24 million employees. According to Wikipedia http://www.wikipedia.org/ the federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. The association is comprised of department stores, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, and independent retailers, chain restaurants and grocery stores, including companies that supply goods and services to retailers.

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