The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Chicago Mayor Rescinds Living Wage for Big Box Employees

by Shreema Mehta

*A correction was appended to this news brief after initial publication.

Sept. 13, 2006 – Chicago Mayor Richard Daley Monday vetoed the city’s passage of a living wage ordinance for big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target.

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The "big-box ordinance" would have required all large retailers – stores in Chicago with at least 90,000 square feet and operated by companies making more than $1 billion a year in revenue – to pay a living wage to their employees. By 2010, employees of big-box retailers would have earned $10 an hour, along with $3 an hour in benefits.

In defending his veto, Daley said that the bill, which the City Council passed in a 35 to 14 vote, would not help to lift Chicagoans out of poverty. "Rather, I believe it would drive jobs and businesses from our city, penalizing neighborhoods that need additional economic activity the most," he said in a press statement. It is the first veto he has exercised in 17 years as mayor, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Toni Foulkes, a community leader with the Chicago chapter of ACORN, a national grassroots advocacy network, blasted the veto in a press statement. "The mayor did the wrong thing by our communities when he bent to pressure from big money interests from out of town," Foulkes said. "We want the Aldermen on the City Council to stand up for their neighborhoods and override this veto, so we can have jobs with fairness and dignity in our communities."

Three aldermen told the Tribune that they will switch sides and support the veto, making an override unlikely.

The ordinance would have affected 40 stories within the city limits, according to the Tribune. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which helped craft the ordinance, said that affected entry-level workers currently earn an estimated $6 to $8 an hour.

As previously reported by The NewStandard, dozens of cities and towns have passed living wage ordinances, which set pay standards that usually apply to government agencies or businesses that receive government support.


Clarifying Note:

The original version of this article said "yesterday" instead of "Monday" in the first sentence, erroneously giving readers the impression that the mayor's veto occurred on Tuesday. The error was introduced by editors when the article was published a day later than expected.

 | Change Posted September 13, 2006 at 14:27 PM EST

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

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Shreema Mehta is a staff journalist.

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