Senate Change Impacts Legislation

Last week's upset election naming Republican Scott Brown to replace former Mass. Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, promised to take some of the pressure off some issues of concern to the food-retailing industry. In addition to the massive health care overhaul, which retailers had some concerns about, other legislation whose passage could be affected by the loss of a 60-vote Democratic majority

WASHINGTON — Last week's upset election naming Republican Scott Brown to replace former Mass. Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, promised to take some of the pressure off some issues of concern to the food-retailing industry.

In addition to the massive health care overhaul, which retailers had some concerns about, other legislation whose passage could be affected by the loss of a 60-vote Democratic majority include the Employee Free Choice Act. Retailers strongly oppose this pro-union bill, which was unable to pass last year but was expected to be reintroduced this year with some changes.

“Brown's election really puts card-check in jeopardy,” said Neil Golub, chief executive officer, Price Chopper Supermarkets, Schenectady, N.Y., and the leader of Food Marketing Institute's efforts to thwart the legislation.

He noted that President Obama continues to appear to be a supporter of organized labor, however.

“Some of these guys forget that it is business that creates jobs, not organized labor,” Golub added.

Other issues of concern to the industry have more bipartisan support, such as the food-safety bill in the Senate and bills that could introduce regulation of credit and debit card fees. Both are supported by food retailers.