Wal-Mart Supercenters Could Affect Los Angeles Health Care System, Report Finds
Wal-Mart Stores' Supercenters could strain the local health care system and threaten the area's unionized supermarket industry if the company is allowed to expand into Los Angeles without being required to increase benefits and wages, according to a Rodino Associates report commissioned by the Los Angeles City Council, the Los Angeles Times reports. The report found that Wal-Mart's limited health benefits could prompt its employees to go to emergency rooms and seek medical assistance from publicly funded programs. In addition, because the stores, which combine a full supermarket with a typical Wal-Mart discount outlet, pay its nonunionized workers an average of $8 per hour less than unionized grocery store employees, Wal-Mart's expansion is a threat to the state's highly unionized supermarkets and "figures prominently" in the ongoing strike and lockout of grocery workers in Southern and Central California, according to the Times.
The city attorney's office will draft an ordinance based on the report and on advice from the council's Economic Development and Employment Committee. That ordinance, which could be implemented as early as the beginning of 2004, could ban or severely restrict Wal-Mart Supercenters in Los Angeles County. Wal-Mart has commissioned its own analysis of potential effects that the supercenters would have on the local community; the company analysis has not yet been released (Cleeland, Los Angeles Times, 12/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.