The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Chicago Wants To Raise The Wages Of Wal-Mart Employees

How high do you think they would like to go? $8? $9? How about $13?

Under two "big-box" proposals pending before the council, operators of large stores in the city would be required to pay their employees a minimum of about $10 per hour in wages and another $3 in fringe benefits.

"There is a tremendous amount of opportunity that can be lost, not just by Wal-Mart but by other businesses that would be affected by this," Bisio said. "If you were a businessman, why would you want to continue to invest millions and millions of dollars ... and subject your business [to a requirement] that applies to some, but not all? It is an unfair ordinance.

"If you want to raise it for all businesses, if you want to do it to all retailers, then you might have something," he continued. "But not like this."

The ordinance, which would probably also effect Costco, which I do patronize, basically doubles the minimum wage for stores of a certain size. Some aldermen believe that Wal-Mart will develop stores in the city anyway:

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), who supports the big-box ordinance, said that passage would not change Wal-Mart's plans.

"We won't lose them," he said. "Wal-Mart wants to come into Chicago because they see the market. They see how much is being spent in Chicago proper. They want to be here. They just have to pay a living wage."

Really? It is a fact that Wal-Mart refused to open a store on the south side earlier this year when threatened with similar legislation, and it is a fact that Wal-Mart once fired all of their butchers and suspended their meat and deli section completely rather than allow a butchers' union (they now provide only pre-packaged meat). Wal-Mart is conscious of the bottom line, but they are also somewhat principled. They don't just give in to stuff like this.

The effect of this ordinance, if it passes, will be to place an artificial limit on the size of a store, to drive business out of the city and into the near suburbs, to drive out jobs, and to raise prices. Most of this will hurt poor people. The government of the city of Chicago is especially talented at hurting poor people.


  • I saw an earlier Trib. article on this a while ago and was wondering how you had missed it.

    It is even crazier when you consider how much people wanted these jobs. About 25,000 people from the City of Chicago applied for 325 jobs in a southern suburb. I guess Wal-Mart's wages didn't seem too low to them.

    So much for revitalizing run down areas by encouraging businesses that draw people.

    Actually the crazy part is that the whole anti-Wal-Mart campaign is primarily the result of labor unions' self-serving efforts to try to recover from deteriorating manufacturing by expanding into retail instead of the result of workers complaining about conditions.

    By Blogger Scott H, at 12:36 PM  

  • I can't say I'm a proponent of passing laws/ordinances that target one individual or company. While it may affect others, it sounds like they're just hell-bent on keeping Wal-Mart out. Do we know why? Sam Walton murder one of the aldermen's relatives or something?

    By Anonymous mitch, at 4:44 PM  

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