retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Associated Press reports that "several labor unions say more than $400,000 in contributions by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. since 2010 helped bring about the creation of an unusual taxpayer-paid subsidy last month to help employers offset a higher minimum wage in New York."

According to the story, "In March, the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo increased the minimum wage to $9 an hour over the next three years, up from the current minimum wage of $7.25. The law also included tax credits for employers who hire seasonal employees ages 16 to 19 who are still in school. That subsidy is estimated at $20 million to $40 million a year with no cap on the payments. The provision is expected to provide millions of dollars to big-box stores like Wal-Mart.

"Lawmakers never announced the subsidy, but it was discovered in the bill after months of closed-door negotiations. The allegations come as the unions seek public financing of campaigns."

New York State senate Republicans, accused of having taken the contributions, call the charges "complete and utter nonsense." And Walmart says it played no role in crafting or amending the minimum wage legislation.

Still, the AP notes that "Wal-Mart has contributed more than $105,000 to Republican senators and Assembly members over the past two years as Democratic support for the issue grew, state election records show. In addition, Wal-Mart provided $400,000 since January 2011, most of it in 2012, to a state Republican Senate account that can be used for several purposes."
KC's View: