Snyder Urges Reform Of Controversial Item-Pricing Law

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

EAST LANSING -- Every day, the grocers at Goodrich's Shop-Rite in East Lansing roam the store, tagging new prices on countless items.

Michigan is one of just two states in the country that require retailers to place the tag physically on both food and non-food items (the other is Massachusetts, and most other states require those tags only on food products).

And it is a costly venture.

"In some cases, Michigan consumers don't get the benefit of some sales, because it's such a costly and timely procedure to physically change the tags on every item," says Tom Scott with the Michigan Retailers Association.

He estimates that requiring those stickers to be placed directly on the items instead of simple shelf pricing costs the state's economy some $2 billion a year.

It's why Gov. Rick Snyder was met with such applause Wednesday night at his State of the State address when he pushed lawmakers to reform the item-pricing law, put in place in the 1970s when scanners first appeared in grocery stores -- leaving customers at the time worried they might be overcharged for their purchases.

"Let's embrace technology that saves consumers time and money while still protecting them," Snyder said, suggesting better scanner technology safeguards consumers from those concerns. "Let's make item pricing one law that's out of stock."

That is not to say that everyone is thrilled with the idea of removing the law. Thousands of Michiganders, in fact, rely on retagging items at the grocery store for their jobs.

"The beautiful thing about the current item-pricing law is that it protects jobs by protecting consumers," says Chris Michalakis with the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Protecting consumers, he says, by assuring them that the price on their item is correct. Michalakis estimates the state will lose between one and three jobs at every grocery store across the state if lawmakers were to completely remove item pricing.

The other option would be to restrict the required tagging to food, as is the case in most other states.

Both Michalakis and Scott say they expect the legislature to take up the issue within the next few months, and they say there's a very good chance the law will be either eliminated or reformed.

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  • by non anonymous on Jan 22, 2011 at 08:32 AM
    The end game business model for American is China. Price Marking law then right to work state then right to work for less state.. then slavery. Benefiting the minority and hurting the majority.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 22, 2011 at 06:50 AM
    The pricing of every product sounds like it was a union method of keeping people working at meaningless task. Instead of having them price items in the store, the stores can have these same people do community projects.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 22, 2011 at 06:48 AM
    Most stores have item scanners to verify what will ring up at the cash registered after sales prices and so forth. If the repeal of the law will reduce the cost of my monthly from $300 a month to $270, I will gladly spend the extra $360 on the gas for the car. Most stores will find jobs for these people, they are not as heartless as the media make them out to be.
  • by Rob Location: Charlotte on Jan 21, 2011 at 10:35 AM
    My comment last night about 1 in 3 employees being employed to mark items was being sarcastic (I'm bright enough to know that 1/3 of the empoyees arn't just marking prices). My point was jobs created by the goverment impossing laws that require additonal employees just for compliance for the laws and more regulators to over see that laws are being followed increases the cost of goods and can cause people to have to by from large chain stores, or by imported items because they are less costly. The cost of all taxes, laws and regulation that are imposed on business are altimatelly passed down to the consumer. If Mr. Snyder is going to work toward Michigan being more competitive with the rest of the USA (and the world) in regard to repealing some of the excessive laws and taxes that we have, I say kudos to Mr. Snyder.
  • by FactCheck Location: MI-7 District on Jan 21, 2011 at 09:41 AM
    Leave the law alone. It works and ISN'T BROKEN. Don't fix what is not broken.
  • by TJ Location: home on Jan 21, 2011 at 05:49 AM
    Gee, I wonder who contributed to Mr. Snyders campaign so heavily that stickers on groceries is such a monumental problem. Does anyone really believe that getting rid of the people that tag groceries is going to result in lower prices for the consumer or stop them from raising prices? I think maybe it's an easily kept promise to Mr. Snyders big business buddies.....and so it begins. I'd rather have people employed by companies making huge profits than unemployed and contributing nothing to their state or communities. I can think of many more negative consequences of repealing the law than leaving it alone. It's clear that Mr. Snyder has an agenda that he'll use to further himself and his cronies to the continued detriment of the general population.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 21, 2011 at 04:20 AM
    This will help let some workers go.Thats alright.More need to be jobless right?I can think of other things in this state that needs done much worse.I guess it is one way to buy time and see how people are going to react to our new gov ideas.
  • by a Location: a on Jan 20, 2011 at 09:07 PM
    Rob and Irony Knows Not Snyder: you need to learn how to read. It says "between one and three jobs will be lost in every store", not "one out of every three jobs will be lost."
  • by rick Location: lansing on Jan 20, 2011 at 08:26 PM
    grocers will eliminate jobs and not worry about scanner accuracy. i spent 30 years defending this law. nothing has changed. prices were not lower in other states, but scanners were less accurate. snyder wants to create jobs and this will eliminate jobs. consumers get whacked.
  • by Maury Location: Marshall on Jan 20, 2011 at 08:23 PM
    I don't buy things that don't have a price on them. I don't need any bad surprises at the checkout.
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