Flanked by a quartet of African-American ministers, an emotional Mayor Richard M. Daley Monday stepped up his opposition to the pending “big box” minimum wage ordinance, suggesting that its passage would be unfair to minority neighborhoods that are desperate for jobs.The chief sponsor of this ordinance Ald. Joe Moore claims to have at least 30 to 32 votes behind. If Daley vetos this measure, 34 votes are required to overide the Mayor's veto.
In a City Hall press conference, Mr. Daley clearly suggested without explicitly saying so that mostly white union bosses who ignored the growth of low-wage retailers in the suburbs have decided to make an example of Chicago as part of their feud with Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., regardless of the impact on poor city neighborhoods.
“Not one person objected” when Wal-Mart opened stores in Forest Park, Bedford Park, Niles, Northlake and a dozen other suburbs,” Mr. Daley declared. “Not one.
“If the suburbs have it, why can’t parts of this city have it?” he asked.
At the same time, Mr. Daley suggested that many white aldermen who are for the ordinance already have off-priced retailers in their wards but are getting upset only now that Wal-Mart has begun to move into the inner city market.
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Mr. Daley suggested that aldermen add an “opt out” provision to the bill, which would set a minimum wage of $10 plus $3 in fringes for stores above 90,000 sq. ft. of space. But an amendment to allow each alderman to exclude his ward from coverage failed to make it out of committee.
The Rev. Albert Tyson of St. Stephen AME Church, one of those who stood next to the mayor, said surveys show most blacks are opposed to the ordinance, largely because they realize the value of having even entry-level jobs in their depressed communities.
Another, the Rev. Leon Finney, said even low-cost retailers mean business for long-neglected areas and “business brings business.” He said labor unions which are pressuring aldermen to vote for the bill do not have the political clout they claim.