Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wal-Mart: City could get 20 stores -- but . . .

Well this I didn't know. In the city all I would know about it two stores in the city particulary the one actually going up on the west side. But 10-20 stores? How are they going to manage that?

Well here's some of the story...

Chicago could be home to as many as 20 new Wal-Mart stores over the next five years, but only if the City Council does not establish wage and benefit standards for "big box" retailers, a company official said Monday.

Even before the planned September opening of its Austin store, Wal-Mart is meeting with aldermen and scouting locations for additional Chicago stores while pursuing the urban strategy outlined by its CEO in April, according to John Bisio, Wal-Mart's Midwest director of public affairs.

One possibility is an old K-Mart site at 77th and Stony Island in the South Side ward of Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who said she's not interested until Wal-Mart cleans up "some serious public perception problems" related to how the company treats its employees.
Here's a little info on the city council ordinance which could put a dent in their plans...

Introduced by Ald. Joe Moore (49th) and championed by Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke (14th), the ordinance would apply to both newly built and existing stores with at least 75,000 square feet of space owned by companies with $1 billion in annual gross revenues.

Those 35 Chicago stores would be required to pay any employee who works more than five hours a week a "living wage" of at least $10 an hour, along with $3 an hour in benefits.

"Why would you continue to invest millions and millions of dollars . . . in a marketplace [that has] rules subject to some and not all? If you want to do it to all retailers, you might have something. But, not like this," Bisio said.

Asked how many new Chicago Wal-Marts hang in the balance, Bisio said, "It's not unreasonable to say 10 or 20 stores over five years."
The fact that Wal-Mart may put a hold on their plans because of a possibility of a possible ordinance is derided as a "scare tactic" by their city opponents...

Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon accused Wal-Mart of "holding a gun" to the Council's head. Gannon said he would "not be intimidated" by a behemoth that clearly needs Chicago more than Chicago needs Wal-Mart.

"Who are they kidding? They need this market. They're saturated [everywhere else]," Gannon said.

Moore denounced the Wal-Mart threat as a "scare tactic."

"If they're going to come in and do some sort of predatory pricing -- the same sort of subsistence wages they pay their workers -- and, at the same time, put other [retailers] out of business, perhaps it's not such a bad thing" for Wal-Mart to avoid the Chicago market, Moore said.
I think the city council needs to stay out of this one and let the market take care of itself. There's no need to freeze a company out of this market by attempting to impose a "living wage". This can only hurt those who wants a job.

Addendum: An interesting post on the city council Wal-Mart ordinance over at Illinoize, a very interesting take on why there is such obvious opposition to Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart: City could get 20 stores -- but . . .from Chicago Sun-Times


Thomas Westgard said...

Capitol Fax (Illinoize) has a post on this topic today too, from

Cynthia said...

I guess this is all we need, more low paying jobs with cheap products with poor quality...

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