As stores prepare for the holiday season, Ohio lawmakers are calling on businesses to make, what they believe to be, more responsible corporate decisions.
Tincludes considering better wages for employees. Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports.
Democratic Representative Bob Hagan of Youngstown is introducing a bill that he says will bring about higher corporate responsibility and address what he believes to be a major problem in the state.
Hagan: “Some of the largest and most profitable corporations in Ohio are also among the top biggest users of taxpayer funded public assistance that is to say they are the state’s largest welfare queens.”
Hagan uses Walmart as an example. He says 10,000 employees for the world’s largest retailer rely on food stamps in Ohio.
Under the bill, the state director of job and family services would create a report showing which businesses had the largest employee use of state public assistance.
Hagan: “Having this information available will allow the Legislature and relevant agencies to make complete judgments of the merits of offering taxpayer funded subsidies to certain companies while also shining light on which corporate citizens are neglecting the well-being of their employees.”
The companies mentioned by Hagan are all businesses that tout their low prices. And Hagan doesn’t believe prices would go up if any of the companies changed their employee-related practices. Hagan uses the large warehouse chain Costco as an example of a company that has low prices, makes a profit, and still pays their employees a good wage. He says that’s something the owners of Walmart haven’t accomplished.
Hagan: “You’re talking about a multi-national—multi-corporation—of a family that has done absolutely nothing accept make an incredible amount of money with total disregard—as we have pointed out—to their employees.”
Lake: “It’s really a thinly veiled attack on Ohio’s largest employers for reasons that really don’t have anything to do with health care.”
That’s Keith Lake, vice president of government affairs for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. He says, mathematically speaking, it shouldn’t come as a shock to the legislators that the state’s largest employers happen to also have to most employees needing public assistance.
Lake says this bill has nothing to do with corporate responsibility, and if the House Democrats really wanted to reduce the amount of people needing public assistance then they should take a different approach.
Lake: “Representative Hagan and the other co-sponsors of this bill—they’d be wiser to focus on working towards passing legislation that would improve our business climate—not figuring out ways to embarrass the companies that are already here employing thousands upon thousands of Ohioans.”
Hagan’s bill comes after another proposal that would require retailers to pay more overtime for employees who work on Thanksgiving and part of Black Friday.