Large grocery stores and supermarkets will have to fork over more green stuff for their workers' health care under a bill set to be passed today by the City Council.A persistent complaint about the Big Box stores is that they make it uneconomical for local businesses to offer benefits, or even a living wage. This puts additional burden on local social safety nets, including Medicaid, CHiPS, food stamps, etc. There's been regular debate over a "living wage" for new development in Lawrence, and something like this would be a nice addition to that mix.
The Health Care Security Act would require some 300 employers to spend up to $5,000 a year for each of their workers for their health care coverage.
According to backers of the bill, that's the "prevailing expenditure" for health insurance coverage in and around the city.
While the bill is aimed exclusively at large food and grocery retailers, its supporters hope to impose the same requirement on other industries, including building service employers, construction employers, hotels and laundry operations.
One of the great things about Lawrence is that it's preserved its downtown. The main drag is a beautiful and vibrant street full of locally owned businesses and quirky characters. I think most of them have found ways to survive the Home Depot and Walmart, though I worry about the little hardware store.