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Poll: 71% favor big box ordinance

Thursday, Aug 31, 2006

I got this press release from several members of a coalition backing the big box ordinance:

Despite a million-dollar media blitz and vocal opposition from the Mayor, an overwhelming majority of likely voters in Chicago support a living wage law for large retailers according to a citywide poll released on Wednesday. According to the poll, 71% of Chicagoans favor the Big Box Living Wage ordinance, which would require stores like Home Depot, Target and Wal-Mart to pay a living wage of $10 an hour and provide $3 an hour in benefits like health insurance by 2010.

The poll comes after months of heated debate on the Living Wage ordinance. Large retailers and the Mayor have enjoyed repeated press coverage of their opposition to the ordinance, mounted a million dollar advertising campaign against the ordinance, and called 200,000 people to try and convince them to oppose the ordinance. Still, support for the living wage is both broad and deep. Of the 71% of Chicagoans who favor the ordinance, about 9 in 10 said they “strongly favor” it. […]

The ordinance’s broad support shows that the 35 Aldermen who voted in favor of the ordinance reflect the feelings of Chicagoans, while Daley’s opposition is out of step with almost three quarters of the city.

The Mayor’s work to convince Aldermen to switch their votes may make Aldermen politically vulnerable in February’s election. According to the poll, 68%of Chicagoans would view their Alderman less favorably if they took their own pay raise and voted against the Living Wage ordinance. […]

Conducted by Lake Research Partners, a highly respected Washington D.C. firm, the poll determined whether respondents were likely voters, then started with this question:

Now, I am going to read you a proposal that was recently passed by the Chicago City Council. It is called the Big Box Living Wage and Benefits Ordinance. This ordinance applies to any large retailer operating in Chicago with revenues of 1 billion dollars a year or more and 90,000 square feet or larger. This includes stores like Target, Home Depot and Wal-Mart. It requires these large retailers to pay an hourly wage of at least 10 dollars an hour and at least 3 dollars an hour towards benefits like healthcare by 2010. Do you favor or oppose this ordinance?

The poll of 500 registered voters has a margin of error of 4.4% was conducted Lake Research Partners, a nationally recognized polling firm based in Washington, D.C. The poll was funded by Chicago’s UFCW local 881 and Wal-Mart Watch, a national organization dedicated to improving the retailer’s business practices.

Topline results are here. [.doc file]

I’ve requested the crosstabs, and if I get them I’ll post them in the subscriber-only section.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Squideshi - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:58 am:

    Chicago is a big market. If retailers want this business, they will be willing to compete to get it; and that includes cutting into their profit margin a bit to meet the demands of the citizens, who should be the ones setting the rules in their own marketplace.

  2. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:22 am:

    I’d hate to be the alderman who voted to raise my own pay to over $110,000 a year and voted against a living wage of $20,000 a year for working families.

    THAT direct mail piece writes itself over and over and over again.

  3. - Wumpus - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:26 am:

    I agree w/YDD on the alerman issue.
    I disagree with targetting only the big boxes, why not huge operations like White Hen and 7/11, along with mom and pop operations?

  4. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:28 am:

    I don’t know Squideshi. Wal-Mart has done pretty well for itself up to this point without ever having a location within the Chicago city limits. Their not locating in Chicago hurts the residents of the city, and the city itself, more than it hurts them. Plus, don’t forget that Wal-Mart is a publicly held company. Anything that negatively impacts it’s profit margin negatively impacts stock value….which negatively impact the entire economy.

    I know the point has been made many times, but it’s worth making again: this ordinance is stupid and arbitrary. Why isn’t Walgreens subject to it? Or McDonalds? Couldn’t those corporations really afford to pay more as well? Why the distinction based on size of store?

  5. - RAI - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:41 am:

    This just proves that you can get polls to say what you want them to say.
    I wonder if they polled any of the thousands of people who lined up for jobs at the wallmart in evergreen park?
    59% of responders are people with some college, college graduates or post graduates and 47% are white; these people will never work in wallmart most I would say don’t shop at wallmart and if they do can afford to drive to one.
    The question is should the city not allow a discount store that employs thousands to open in areas that need jobs.

  6. - HANKSTER - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:47 am:

    I don’t buy the argument that raising the wage will have any real negative impact on jobs. That argument is used everytime people want to raise the minimum wage and it never comes true. I do think though that big box would be much more worthwhile in the form of a state or national law. Still, the city bill is a step in the right direction.

  7. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:51 am:

    According to a memo I’ve obtained from the pollsters, this poll completely undercuts the argument that the Mayor, Wal-Mart, and Wal-Marts allies on the city council are making. Namely, that this is a white liberal cause that is being forced on minority residents of the south and west side:

    Northside: 64% for / 28% opposed
    Southside: 79% for / 17% opposed
    Westside: 72% for / 23% opposed

    White: 63% for / 31% opposed
    Black: 81% for / 15% opposed
    Hispanic: 80% for / 17% opposed

    This is a real eye-opener for any black alderman who think that the relative handful of African American protesters generated by Wal-Mart reflects broader opposition to a living wage ordinance.

  8. - Truthful James - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:01 am:

    Say, here is a thought. Let Cook County raise the tax on retail sales (they are the only home rule County in the State) and distribute the additional proceeds by population to the various cities and villages.

    No, that wouldn’t work either.

    And we can’t levy a surtax on any Walmart sold goods entering the City.

    Let’s turn our attention to a much bigger employer. All those McDonalds total more that 100K sq.ft. and otherwise qualify. They hire the poorest of the poor. So what if they have to lay off one or two employers per shift in order to be able to accommodate the higher labor costs. Let the ten percent suffer so the ninety percent can get higher wages. Is that the American way?

  9. - North of I-80 - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:02 am:

    If the Big Box Living Wage does nothing bad and all good for all those involved, then why not make it a living wage of $50 per hour and make it for Medium-Box stores and Small-Box stores too? I bet that barbers and secretaries who work for No-Box businesses would like to be paid $50/hour too. You wouldn’t want to knowingly discriminate against any size or type of store would you?

  10. - Chick McGann - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:02 am:

    I would like to see an independent poll back up these numbers. A poll conducted by the University of Illinois or some truly independent organization. How many polls were taken until they got this desired result? The pool of respondents was relatively small, too. This taints the outcome as any good poll analyst can tell you.

    Why I am amazed is that so many of these inner-city neighborhoods need a Wal-mart, Target, Home Depot to anchor a revival and to give their residents convenience, reasonable prices and decent, well paying jobs.

    This Big Box debate is a case of the unions forcing an outcome on an industry that isn’t unionized (typically) and whose employees have reject unionization in the past for good reason. Daley should veto this dog of an ordinance.

  11. - John Lee Pettimore - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:13 am:

    Daley should veto this ordinance. It’s bad for Chicago.

  12. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:13 am:

    North, c’mon. What kind of logic is that? Also, let’s all try to be a little more original. I’ve seen that “$50 an hour minimum wage” line quite often before. It’s a red herring. Move on.

  13. - Truthful James - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:20 am:

    Rich –

    I;m trying…perhaps very trying.

  14. - Socialism At Its Best - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:23 am:

    Instead of letting the free enterprise market, upon which this county was founded, determine a workers worth to an organization (we already have the minimum wage laws) we are now going to have politicians make that determination for the company.

    I guess we should look at the cost of living for every location in which a business operates and then arbitrarily set the hourly wage accordingly. Why do this for only big box stores? Why shouldn’t these be done for all businesses and professions (politicians, doctors, lawyers, professors, etc.)?

    What this misguided law will do is keep businesses from locating into the very areas that need the jobs the most. Chicago needs Wal-Mart more than Wal-Mart needs Chicago because Wal-Mart is a global player and has an entire world before them where they can locate at will. If people living in an area do not agree with the wages a business is offering they don’t have to apply for a job there. If a lower wages or poorer working conditions are prevalent through out the city area in which you live you can always move elsewhere as people have done that for centuries.

  15. - HANKSTER - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:40 am:

    Socialism: I think the country was founded on the basis of representation. That being said, if those in law making positions pass a living wage bill and people are unhappy, then vote them out and put someone in who does not support people being paid a living wage. To me, that is American.

    But the ever growing disparity in wealth, if not seen by some as a moral issue, is an issue of national survival. That is why last week, for example, we heard Fed Chariman Ben Bernanke, by no means a socialist, warn of the growing unequal distribution of wages as a direct threat to trade liberalization and national economic stability.

  16. - Ivory-billed Woodpecker - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 1:40 pm:

    Mr. Socialism,

    It’s probably worth remembering that when the country was founded, slaves and other less than free economic actors were a big part of the population, and corporations were rare, specially chartered entities, usually established to serve defined public functions for limited periods.

    I am sure we all are happy about the Thirteenth Amendment; and most of us probably agree that Delaware was on to something when it gave us the unlimited corporate charter in 1899. But Chicago’s trying to regulate a sector of the economy hardly seems to me to run against the whole march of freedom. The very worst that happens is that the big box regulation experiment fails, and Chicago repeals the ordinance after a few years. Laboratories of democracy, and all that.

    Want to live in a place where everyone is free to plunder the economy without the hindrance of government rules? Move to Russia!

  17. - Socialism At Its Best - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 1:47 pm:

    Hankster, you are correct in one aspect and that is in reference to the ‘basis of representation’. Unfortunately, our Founding Fathers could have never envisioned our republic transforming into a country where elected officials put their own political survival over the just interests of the state or country as a whole. Thankfully we can use the electoral process to eradicate those politicians that pander to a specific constituency in order to perpetuate their existence at the public trough.

    Unfortunately neither Illinois nor the US can dictate any longer to companies in the new global marketplace. Go ahead and try to force a company into paying employees more than their bean counters determine is justifiable and that company will shut down and relocate to a more favorable climate whether that is somewhere else in America or overseas. When the Fed Chairman made his comments he was by no means referring to something such as a living wage bill in Illinois. Bernanke was in fact referring to the global marketplace.

    By all means the politicians can go headlong with their bill and attempt to force it upon whomever they deem deserving and their constituents can clap their hands and celebrate in victory. However, who will celebrate when that company who would have provided some jobs in an area decides they don’t wish to go along with that living wage bill and decides to locate somewhere else causing the loss of all potential jobs in an area?

  18. - Socialism At Its Best - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 1:53 pm:

    Ivory, I agree whith you wholeheartedly as I am against socialism and support this great country in which I live, which is why I have been trying to point out the absuridty of a community trying to dictate to a global company what they will or will not pay in that particular community. It is destined for failure and may ultimately hurt those for which it is intended to help.

  19. - HANKSTER - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 2:00 pm:

    “However, who will celebrate when that company who would have provided some jobs in an area decides they don’t wish to go along with that living wage bill and decides to locate somewhere else causing the loss of all potential jobs in an area?”

    That argument has been used everytime there has been an effort to raise the minimum wage or provide benifits and it has never come true. And if you extend the argument you made then we should have to be paying pennies a day or we will lose all jobs to all the third world countries.

    However I do think a state or national living wage law would be much better than a local law. If the national minimum wage was an actual living wage, I would like to see Walmart and others say they are going to leave the U.S.

  20. - Socialism At Its Best - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 2:07 pm:

    We are in complete agreement that a national law would be a much better way to tackle the problem.

    A local or regional law is doomed to failure in today’s world business climate.

  21. - TangerineTalks - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 3:53 pm:

    Interesting points everyone. Walmart owns the world. It is the second richest company after Exxon. Exxon just recently stole first from Walmart. IF the richest companies in the world are not going to pay a living wage then who will. We can see the patterns across the world. If Walmart could get away with paying .10 an hour they would.
    The arguement that this is bad for Chicago is the same arguement we have heard for centuries.
    Oh my gosh an 8 hour day that is going to destroy our economy, a minimum wage-that is awful for business
    Slavery what are the poor masters going to do if we abolish slavery… that will be bad for the United States.
    Come on… we have standards. We are people with dignity and honor and we deserve $10 an hour plus benefits. I urge everyone to call their alderman and Mayor Daley 312.744.3300

  22. - Utopian World of Chicago - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 4:21 pm:

    We as a society do not deserve $10 an hour plus benefits just because we are lucky enough to be in this country. If that is your benchmark then why stop there? Do we also not deserve free housing, food, and guaranteed employment for life?

    If we’re going to start arbitrarily setting wages depending upon the city or region one lives in then the micro-managing of that task would be enormous. In some communities $10 and hour plus benefits would allow you to live a very comfortable lifestyle yet in other areas of the country this may hardly provide the basic necessities.

    These people aren’t being forced to apply for those jobs. If no one applies at the lower wages then Wal-Mart would be forced to raise those wages to a point that people will apply for the jobs. The markets should decide.

  23. - Truthful James - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 4:48 pm:


    In politics and with a twenty four hour news cycle, symbolism is everything. The Big Box is a symbol.

    You may be able to require the big boys located here to pay what the Big Box law demands. But you can not force them to build in Chicago — not yet anyway. Symbology rules!

    And even if you could do that, you can not force one to cap prices, especially if it is the only place in town. So if they raise prices in Chicago — which the captive Target just might do — then the consumer pays the higher wages indirectly, or as with my McDonalds example earlier they do not hire as many workers.

    Tangerine Talks —

    What makes you worth any salary at all? Do your services justify that?

    Entry level jobs, which Walmart has, go to entry level people, where you learn what work is. It is not a permanent place to work. Hopefully job skills improve and you move slowly up the ladder of employment. If not Walmart, then Walgreen’s

  24. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:02 pm:

    Utopian World of Chicago — We weren’t just lucky enough to have been born in Chicago. We were also lucky enough to have paid the taxes that protect the ports that Wal-Mart imports good from China through every day. And subsidize the gas tanks that Wal-Mart fill up everyday to bring those good from the Midwest. And fill the pot holes. And provide the police and fire protection.

    I’m not even going to go into direct tax subsidies.

    If Wal-Mart wants to take the “free market” approach, fine. Let them raise their own army, build their own ports and roads, provide their own water, fire, police, and other public services.

    But the whole idea that Wal-Mart owes nothing to society under the current terms and conditions is absurd.

  25. - zatoichi - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:55 pm:

    Does the person working as a janitor, at Portillos, at Ace Hardware, or many other smaller operations not need the same living wage assistance. Why limit the choice to retail? Chicago’s budget for 2006 was set at $5.24B according to their budget book. Why isn’t the city included in the big box definition? They clearly have over 90,000 sq ft of buildings.

  26. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Sep 1, 06 @ 12:01 am:

    zatoichi - That’s a terrific idea. Why don’t you run for alderman or mayor?

    In the meantime, this legislation represents a small step forward. Small, yes, but also forward.

  27. - TangerineTalks - Friday, Sep 1, 06 @ 12:56 pm:

    First of all how dare you bring up entry level positions. There are people that are going to work at Walmart and Target and Walgreens for the rest of their lives. There are retired people that will work at these compnaies. Why is that your judgement to choose what is entry level and is “important”? Each role in society is important. Each person has a different position.
    We could be using the money that we are giving away to the big box stores and helping people open their own business.
    Do we not deserve rest… do we need to be working several jobs to make ends meet. Why are we working 2-3 jobs to make up what one job should be able to give you. Is an 8 hour work day approriate? That had to be fought for. So I just want to get this right Utopian… you are against a living wage. You believe that we (Chicago) should continue to give TIF money (in the tens of millions) to develop The Largest Companies in the world because they obviously need it, then we should shop there and give them more money… we don’t ask for anything in return(living wage)… and at the end of the year we give them tax breaks… UTOPIAN this is a question of living wage. Do you believe in a living wage or not?

  28. - TangerineTalks - Friday, Sep 1, 06 @ 12:59 pm:

    Oh and Utopian… EVERYONE In the world deserves a living wage. Every human has the right to an education, health care, and a comfortbale life. This is a human issue. My husband is from a very very very poor country, I understand how lucky I am. I don’t want our middle class to strink to what his country has done to his people.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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