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Council defies Daley, OKs 'living wage'
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | 7/27/06 | FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

Posted on 07/27/2006 6:53:01 AM PDT by Jean S

Defying Mayor Daley and challenging Wal-Mart and Target to follow through on their threats, a bitterly divided City Council voted Wednesday to require Chicago's big-box retailers to pay employees a "living wage" of at least $10 an hour and $3 in benefits by 2010.

The 35-14, veto-proof vote is an overwhelming victory for organized labor and the latest in a string of legislative defeats for a corruption-weakened Daley.

"They're afraid of candidates running against them. That's what it is. That was the real issue," Daley said, denying that the vote was a sign of his diminishing grip on a Council he once controlled with an iron fist.

"I can roll with the punches on anything."

Thirty-four votes are needed to override a mayoral veto, and union leaders ended up with 35. Unless Daley can pick off at least two votes -- highly unlikely on such an emotionally charged issue -- a veto is out of the question.

Nevertheless, David Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, exhorted Daley to "tear down this wall and veto the barrier to economic opportunity for all.''

The mayor refused to rule out his first-ever veto.

But chances are he will pin his hopes on a court challenge promised by the association.

FDR vs. Robin Hood

"It affects a [90,000-square-foot] big box today. Does it affect someone with 50,000 square feet tomorrow [or] 25,000? ... Everybody is for a living wage. But to only single out one unit -- and they're afraid they'll move down. Next week, is it going to be something else? ... Where do you stop? That's the concern that I have ... I have to keep sales tax here some way. It can't all be on Michigan Avenue," Daley said.

When the roll call was finally announced, a packed City Council gallery erupted in cheers. Supporters had lined up early to witness a vote that could change the economic landscape of Chicago -- and set a precedent across the nation.

A two-year lobbying campaign waged behind the scenes culminated in more than three hours of debate that aired all of the old arguments -- and some new ones.

Chief sponsor Ald. Joe Moore (49th) likened the living-wage campaign to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's efforts 68 years ago to impose a 40-cent-an-hour minimum wage, outlaw child labor and mandate a 40-hour workweek.

"Our job is not to safeguard profits for the world's wealthiest corporations. Our job is to look out for our constituents," he said.

Moore scoffed at threats by Wal-Mart and Target to cancel their ambitious expansion plans for Chicago. "There is a buck to be made. A lot of bucks. They've saturated the rural markets," he said.

Moore's New Deal comparison did not sit well with his seatmate, Ald. Bernard Stone (50th).

"Instead of wrapping himself in President Roosevelt's cloak, he should be wearing a little cap with a feather. This is Sherwood Forest. My colleague is Robin Hood. What he wants to do is steal from the rich and give to the poor," he said.

Nowhere was the bitter division more evident than among African-American aldermen. Nine voted against the ordinance and 10 for it.

Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) said he finds it "amazing" his colleagues are willing to "take the risk" that Wal-Mart and Target are bluffing. "When it comes to the West Side, 'Let's gamble.' They're willing to gamble with my side of town," he said.

Ald. Ed Smith (28th), chairman of the Council's Black Caucus, took the opposite view. He presented charts to show the average Wal-Mart employee is paid $7.70 an hour and $16,016 a year, while Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott rakes in $16,826 an hour (based on a 40-hour week) and $34.9 million a year. "How can I tell Mrs. Jones that I won't support an extra $2 an hour?" he said.

The mayor has branded the ordinance "redlining," arguing it would deprive impoverished African-American communities of jobs, places to shop and revenues.

Commitments made to labor

Underscoring Daley's claim, Wal-Mart and Target threatened to abandon Chicago expansion.

Wal-Mart warned it could cancel plans to build as many as 20 new Chicago Wal-Marts over the next five years. Target put plans to build three South Side stores "on hold" -- and made thinly veiled threats to close existing stores.

But in the end, none of that saber-rattling mattered.

Aldermen had made commitments to organized labor months ago. They were not about to renege -- and test labor's threat to run candidates against sitting aldermen.

The ordinance that will make Chicago the nation's largest city to mandate wage and benefit standards for retailing giants will be phased in, beginning with mandatory pay of $9.25 an hour and $1.50 in benefits on July 1, 2007, and ending July 1, 2010, with $10 an hour and $3 in benefits. After that, the "living wage" would be raised annually to match the rate of inflation.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has vowed a court challenge.

The association has a legal opinion that the ordinance would interfere with interstate commerce, violate the equal-protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions by singling out large retailers, and exceed the city's home rule powers.

"We're extremely disappointed. Aldermen who voted for this hung out the sign that Chicago is closed for business," said Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

fspielman@suntimes.com


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; Politics/Elections; US: Illinois
KEYWORDS: chicago; extortion; govwatch; livingwage; organizedlabor; shakedown; target; walmart

1 posted on 07/27/2006 6:53:02 AM PDT by Jean S
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: JeanS

Here's an idea. Give everyone 30 dollars an hour. Why not 40? or 50?

Then when you complain that a bottle of soda costs 12 bucks, you will understand how everything is relative.


3 posted on 07/27/2006 6:59:05 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (Democrats - The reason we need term limits)
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To: JeanS

libs don't get it..without employers..there are no employees..


4 posted on 07/27/2006 6:59:41 AM PDT by BerniesFriend
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To: JeanS

Minimum wage isn't designed to support a family of five as a "living wage." It's designed to be a high school kid's first job, where he can earn money for college and learn responsibility. These lefties just don't get it.


5 posted on 07/27/2006 7:00:49 AM PDT by Tarantulas ( Illegal immigration - the trojan horse that's treated like a sacred cow)
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To: JeanS

Wal-Mart and Target must carry through on their threats.

There are other places just as lucrative to put their money and build their stores.

There is no reason on earth to pay a high school kid looking for extra money $10 and hour with $3 worth of benefits per hour.

These should be starter jobs. Those who commit to the stores for career positions that allow overtime, reassignments, etc. (all the stuff that goes with career) will see their incomes rapidly go to the 10 and higher level.


6 posted on 07/27/2006 7:02:13 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: JeanS

All they need to do is make special kiosks in the store for lease departments and call themselves a mall.


7 posted on 07/27/2006 7:02:55 AM PDT by Blessed
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To: JeanS

From Crain's Chicago -- The new Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location opening Friday in suburban (Chicago) Evergreen Park received a record 25000 applications for 325 positions, ..

I guess the booming economy never made it to Liberal-Land. What's the unemployment rate in the Land of Lyin' Ryan and Guv Baloneyvich, anyway?


8 posted on 07/27/2006 7:03:32 AM PDT by spudsmaki
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To: EQAndyBuzz
Here's an idea. Give everyone 30 dollars an hour. Why not 40? or 50? Then when you complain that a bottle of soda costs 12 bucks, you will understand how everything is relative.

Well there as to be a cap on the minimum wage. I think about $1,000,000/hr; because $200,000 for a loaf of bread sounds good to me.

/sarc

9 posted on 07/27/2006 7:07:40 AM PDT by Total Package (TOLEDO, OHIO THE BLUE PIMPLE IN A SEA OF RED!)
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To: spudsmaki

The "Big-Boxes" are not in the city are they? Isn't Wal-mart just outside the city line? I heard about this yesterday and those people were saying the "city" has no control outside its city borders so this is a silly waste of time.


10 posted on 07/27/2006 7:08:45 AM PDT by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: JeanS
The mob is pleased.
11 posted on 07/27/2006 7:15:27 AM PDT by TChris (Banning DDT wasn't about birds. It was about power.)
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To: edcoil

Yes that's the situation with Evergreen Park, just outside the city limits, there are a few others like this in Chicagoland.

This ordinance will affect the WallyWorld built in the Austin neighborhood, I think it's at the intersection of Cicero, North Ave, and Grand. It's a high crime, poor, disputed gang turf, war-zone type area. I think that's the real problem, WM brings in cameras and a lot of "street entreprenuers" are camera-shy. WalMart would gentrify the area.


12 posted on 07/27/2006 7:15:36 AM PDT by spudsmaki
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To: JeanS

Did you notice how "supporters" (AKA Union officials) are in the gallery and "protesters" (AKA working folks) are regulated to the second floor?


13 posted on 07/27/2006 7:16:10 AM PDT by Hazcat
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To: xzins

It amazes me that these mathematical genius's /sarcasm can determine what a living wage is! All one needs to do is check out the starting manager's salary for such stores as Stewart's Ice Cream Shops, Friendly's, Home Depot, etc. They are placed on salary and work 60+ hours per week. If you take a starting salary of $30,000/52/60 it appears it also needs to reviewed by the Chicago statisticians. Yes, the way the Wal-Mart stores and Target stores will handle this is raise prices or build somewhere else. So, in the end the town folks are the real losers. No businesses=no jobs=no tax revenue=losers!


14 posted on 07/27/2006 7:21:10 AM PDT by tuvals (America First - Support Our Troops!)
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To: JeanS

I couldn't but help notice the SEIU supporters in the gallery, wearing their purple and gold t-shirts.

My girlfriend is a nurse at a place that's represented by SEIU. She's very pro-labor - but despises SEIU and says as unions go, they're worthless in representing the employees.


15 posted on 07/27/2006 7:23:07 AM PDT by MplsSteve
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To: xzins

It amazes me that these mathematical genius's /sarcasm can determine what a living wage is! All one needs to do is check out the starting manager's salary for such stores as Stewart's Ice Cream Shops, Friendly's, Home Depot, etc. They are placed on salary and work 60+ hours per week. If you take a starting salary of $30,000/52/60 it appears it also needs to reviewed by the Chicago statisticians. Yes, the way the Wal-Mart stores and Target stores will handle this is raise prices or build somewhere else. So, in the end the town folks are the real losers. No businesses=no jobs=no tax revenue=losers!


16 posted on 07/27/2006 7:23:36 AM PDT by tuvals (America First - Support Our Troops!)
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To: BerniesFriend

"libs don't get it..without employers..there are no employees.."

... and with no employees no tax revenue and no need for government. DAH because there is no one left to govern. Amen.


17 posted on 07/27/2006 7:27:46 AM PDT by gakrak ("A wise man's heart is his right hand, But a fool's heart is at his left" Eccl 10:2)
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To: xzins

I agree with you totally.

Hope Wal-Mart and Target play hard ball.


18 posted on 07/27/2006 7:30:48 AM PDT by conservativebabe
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To: Total Package

Toledo?

I use to work at the flour mill across from Tony Pacos.


19 posted on 07/27/2006 7:35:01 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (Democrats - The reason we need term limits)
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To: JeanS
We seem to have a serious parasite infestation problem in this country.

Anyone got an uber-sized can of Raid?

20 posted on 07/27/2006 7:43:00 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.- Aeschylus)
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To: xzins
Wal-Mart and Target must carry through on their threats.

They will. They know the cost of submission, and they know how to break opposition.

The opposition does not understand what they're up against. Wal-Mart now consumes 10% of China's exports to the U.S. and 1% of China's GDP. Got that? A full 1% of the entire revenue of 1,313,973,713 people comes from ONE COMPANY - WAL-MART. They know the game, and with 6601 stores they won't hesitate to shut down 1 store to say "no, it's not our job to ensure everyone gets a 'living wage'."

21 posted on 07/27/2006 7:46:49 AM PDT by ctdonath2
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To: jasoncann

AThe people in the picture were against the council ordanance, right? They did not want to see the big retailers forced to pay a minimum wage of $10?

I'd like to see these retailers make good on their threat and move their stores to the subs.


22 posted on 07/27/2006 7:50:57 AM PDT by nikos1121 (Thank you again Jimmy Carter.)
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To: EQAndyBuzz
Toledo? I use to work at the flour mill across from Tony Pacos.

That must have been sometime ago because Toleduh! has driven most of the business away.

23 posted on 07/27/2006 7:52:01 AM PDT by Total Package (TOLEDO, OHIO THE BLUE PIMPLE IN A SEA OF RED!)
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To: ctdonath2

I've heard that Wal-Mart controls something like HALF the shelf space of all the major consumer brands in the US.

If they wanted to mount a counter-offensive against this city council, it could get ugly.

My guess is that they will delay building first and appeal this decision, eventually to the federal level.

Wasn't there a recent decision in their favor in Maryland on a similar kind of thing?


24 posted on 07/27/2006 7:52:59 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: JeanS

No longer any need for the Atlas Shrugged movie. We're about to see it in real life.


25 posted on 07/27/2006 7:54:00 AM PDT by zook ("We all knew someone in primary school who had a really powerful magnet")
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To: JeanS
Let's see what happens when Wal-Mart announces they're cancelling ALL plans for any Wal-Mart stores in the Chicago city limits and accelerates plans for opening more stores outside the city limits. Chicagoans will wonder just why employments in the city limits have fallen while employment beyond the city limits have risen--just like what happened to Detroit.
26 posted on 07/27/2006 8:05:55 AM PDT by RayChuang88
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To: JeanS

This is one of those situations where the players who are typically enemies (Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc.) are going to have to be allies. Whatever anyone's thoughts are otherwise on Mayor Daley, HE GETS IT. He knows if these companies are backed into a corner, they'll simply set up shop outside city limits. If any one of them gives in, every one of them will suffer, so count on Wal-Mart, Target, et al. to give these groups the finger and get on with business.


27 posted on 07/27/2006 8:45:03 AM PDT by Rutles4Ever
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To: JeanS

Supporters of the proposed 'living wage' ordinance that would force 'big box' stores such as Wal-Mart and Target inside Chicago's city limits to pay workers more money cheer as Alderman Joseph Moore addresses the city council about the ordinance Wednesday, July 26, 2006, in Chicago. The council is to vote on the ordinance later today. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)


NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ......Help the "Pendleton 8' and families -- http://www.freerepublic.com/~normsrevenge/)

Angela Munguia, 20, Karla Munoz, 20, and Jeyson Florez, 21, left to right, speak with organizer Madeline Talbott after the group showed its support for the 'living wage' proposal at Chicago's City Hall on Tuesday, July 25, 2006. The proposed ordinance, which would require 'big box' retailers to pay higher minimum wages and greater benefits to its workers, will go before the City Council vote on Wednesday, July 26. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)



28 posted on 07/27/2006 9:27:08 AM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ......Help the "Pendleton 8' and families -- http://www.freerepublic.com/~normsrevenge/)
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From yesterday ..

Big-box 'living wage' passed, Chicago ^
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1672803/posts


29 posted on 07/27/2006 9:28:30 AM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ......Help the "Pendleton 8' and families -- http://www.freerepublic.com/~normsrevenge/)
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To: JeanS

**Ald. Ed Smith (28th), chairman of the Council's Black Caucus, took the opposite view. He presented charts to show the average Wal-Mart employee is paid $7.70 an hour and $16,016 a year, while Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott rakes in $16,826 an hour (based on a 40-hour week) and $34.9 million a year. "How can I tell Mrs. Jones that I won't support an extra $2 an hour?" he said.**

Lee Scott's 35 million divided by the 1.3 million Walmart corporation employees equals $27 per employee a year. The CEO's pay is not taking money from the employees.


30 posted on 07/27/2006 9:53:05 AM PDT by Swiss
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To: Swiss

How long will it be before the same group of nitwits demand an investigation into why Walmart's prices have gone up.


31 posted on 07/27/2006 11:51:23 AM PDT by Holicheese (Stanley Cup's new home IS North Carolina!)
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To: Holicheese
How long will it be before the same group of nitwits demand an investigation into why Walmart's prices have gone up.

Or why Wal-Mart suddenly cut a lot of jobs. Bet those people won't be smiling when they get their pink slips.

32 posted on 07/27/2006 11:54:13 AM PDT by dfwgator
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