business news in context, analysis with attitude

More commentary from the MNB community about the Winn-Dixie situation…

MNB user Jeff Totten wrote:

There was an article in yesterday's Hammond Sunday Star about the possible closure of the W-D distribution center here in town as part of Winn-Dixie's bankruptcy procedures. Officials are worried about the possible loss of 400 jobs here -- not good. Some think that the center is safe, since W-D closed one in Harahan a few years ago and moved operations to this center. My wife and I are just hoping that the store stays open in town. My wife, a Wal-Mart shopper, does not like the supercenter here at all -- poorly run, too busy.

Good thing Whole Foods opens in Baton Rouge next month, and there's Albertsons in town (for how long?), and Kroger's an hour away in McComb, plus a Target Super store in Baton Rouge, so I guess all is not lost -- could just become more inconvenient.

And MNB user David J. Livingston elaborated on an earlier comment:

To correct my earlier comment that 55% of Winn Dixies are under $5 per sq. ft. per week - its more like 67%. Its 55% or so in their 3 best states. If the paper is guessing they will need to close or sell 300 stores, think again. I think it could be upwards to 750. And if you are going to go that high, you might as well liquidate all of them because the remaining 150 will be spread over a great distance. Also the perspective from the Winn Dixie associate regarding the bonuses was right on.

We also got an email from an MNB user about Costco’s being granted tax breaks in Arizona:
Regarding Phoenix and tax breaks for Costco, perhaps consideration of the differences in the quality of the jobs between Costco and Wal-Mart should be considered as a differentiation point in granting tax breaks.

When reading the piece today on the Phoenix tax breaks, I thought of the fact that in many cases, tax breaks for economic development can be a good thing. I think Costco’s reputation for good jobs at fair wages and benefits does warrant such tax breaks. From the experiences of my teenage sons, there are folks actually wanting to work at Costco rather than having to work at a Wal-Mart as a last option.

I did a quick Web search on Costco employee benefits…

Costco vs. Wal-Mart
Comparing some workplace statistics, as reported by the companies…

Employees covered by company health insurance:
• Costco 82%
• Wal-Mart 48%

Insurance-enrollment waiting periods (for part-time workers):
• Costco 6 months
• Wal-Mart 2 years

Portion of health-care premium paid by company
• Costco 92%
• Wal-Mart 66%

Annual worker turnover rate
• Costco 24%
• Wal-Mart 50%

On a related news story, MNB user Philip Herr wrote:

Interesting item on CBS this weekend that described the problems facing General Motors and the HAW. GM is burdened with $1,600 per car before they even begin manufacturing, as a consequence of the legacy benefits won by the HAW. Fascinating juxtaposition of "behemoths" and their stance with respect to employees. Is Wal-Mart just trying to avert the crisis in 20 years time that is being faced by GM today?

Regarding food in schools, MNB user Diane Moran wrote:

This topic strikes a severe nerve. California schools serve junk....

Here is the menu from my son's junior high for this week:

Box Lunch Menu

Salad Bar along with the choice of one entree. Bean burrito, Grilled
cheese OR
6/6 Chicken Nuggets
6/7 Cheeseburger minis
6/8 Chicken patty sandwich
6/9 Taco Pocket
6/10 Cheese pizza

Where is the food pyramid in action here? My son is an athlete and couldn't survive the day on this alone. We have not bought school lunches since he was in the first grade. Also, most schools do not have cafeterias, so they bring the food in from outside in warmer trucks. Nowhere do they even ask if you want milk with your meal. I hear you can buy Gatorade.
KC's View: