The Electric Commentary

Monday, July 24, 2006

Where's "The Love" At Wal-Mart?

The Trib had a big story on Chicago's proposed Big Box ordinance, which would require Big Box retailers exclusively to pay a $10 minimum wage plus $3 of benefits. Here's an inspiring quote:

Toni Foulkes tells customers there's a reason the cakes she sells at a South Side Jewel store cost more than cakes at Sam's Club.

"They don't put love in 'em like I do," she says. "And their employees don't make what I make."

She's on the front lines of a fight to make Chicago the first major city to require retailers like Sam's Club owner Wal-Mart to pay a "living wage" of at least $10 per hour with $3 in benefits by 2010. For her, the struggle comes down to a simple equation: All workers are threatened unless communities hold big corporations accountable for paying better-than-poverty-level wages.

Perhaps Ms. Foulkes would not need the city to raise her competitor's prices if she made better cakes. To the Trib's credit, they actually write a balanced article here. They also interviewed Lisa Cox:

Cox, the Wal-Mart worker, isn't following the debate closely, but she looks forward to no longer commuting to work at a suburban Northlake Wal-Mart when the West Side store opens five minutes from her home. She makes $13.47 per hour as a supervisor, making sure checkout lines flow smoothly and greeters and cart-gatherers keep customers happy.

The 40-year-old single mother dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and worked two jobs while raising her son. She started at Wal-Mart eight years ago as a part-time cashier, making $7.25 per hour. "You don't have a problem moving [up] at Wal-Mart," she said. "There's nothing I can't do."

With some hard work, Cox makes $13.47 at crappy old Wal-Mart. How is Ms. Foulkes' union helping her out?

She lives on the same block in West Englewood where she learned to ride a two-wheeler, rooted in a life revolving around decorating cakes and training workers in Jewel's bakery, volunteer work and community activism. She made about $35,000 last year at her $12.85 per hour job, including overtime.

Damn Wal-Mart and their high-paying ways.


  • This is hypocritcal. Many people working in Chicago make less than those working at Wal-Mart.

    I guess when the unions want to make inroads into the largest retailer because their inflexibility has destroyed much of domestic manufacturing, they go hard, dirty, and don't give up.

    Is Chicago going completely authoritarian? I heard they're also regulating fast food cooking, foie gras, and more.

    By Blogger Scott H, at 10:27 PM  

  • I once got fired from my job at a bakery for putting love into the cakes.

    By Blogger dhodge, at 10:23 AM  

  • dhodge, that sound like my friend who got fired from Burger King for serving "sole food" to customers he didn't like.

    Damn a high school dropout making 35K at Wal Mart? I wonder how the distribution of wages in a Wal Mart store looks. There can't be that many jobs like that in one, can there?

    By Anonymous Rashid Muhammad, at 9:51 PM  

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