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Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 21, 2006

First, read this.

Chicagoans overwhelmingly favor wage and benefit standards for Wal-Mart and other “big-box” retailers, even if it places jobs at risk, according to a new poll commissioned by proponents to turn up the heat on the City Council.

Of the 500 registered voters surveyed last week, 84 percent want aldermen to require newly built and existing stores with at least 75,000 square feet of space owned by companies with $1 billion in annual gross revenues to pay employees who work more than five hours a week at least $10 an hour in wages and $3 an hour in benefits.

Wal-Mart said last week that Chicago could be home to as many as 20 new Wal-Mart stores over the next five years, but only if the big box ordinance is defeated. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed believe that’s a chance worth taking. […]

The poll of 500 registered voters was conducted by Washington D.C.-based Lake Research Partners and was commissioned and funded by the Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of community organizations in Chicago. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

The 84 percent showing is identical to results of a March referendum on the issue in the 35th Ward.

What do you think of this idea?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

48 Comments
  1. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 9:23 am:

    The State Medical Society gets into trouble when they defend outrageous behavior by doctors. Labor unions get into trouble when they defend outrageous behavior by employees. And the business lobby gets into trouble when they defend bad corporate citizens like Wal-Mart.

    This ordinance is going to pass eventually. The business community should embrace the notion of civic responsibility rather than waiting to be drafted.


  2. - Free Market Frank - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 9:26 am:

    How was the poll question worded? What if it was worded as follows: “Should the Chicago City Council require a company that wants to bring jobs and low prices on household goods and groceries to Chicago to pay its employees more than its competitors pay their employees?”

    Do you think 84% would answer yes to that question?


  3. - Leroy - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 9:45 am:

    Isn’t the just classism (or racism, even) on the part of the Chicago City Council to deny poor neighborhoods access to low cost goods that would help them out? And denying them access to the sales tax revenue such a store would produce?

    If I were Walmart, I’d build all my stores in the suburbs directly adjacent to Chicago. I’m sure they would benefit from the sales tax revenue.


  4. - Ben - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 9:46 am:

    Did they also poll the question using $20 or $40 per hour? Surprise!… that would poll high also. So what does that tell us?


  5. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 9:57 am:

    Wal-Mart will build stores were it’s most profitable. Higher costs in Chicago means those stores probably drop on the investment priority list, so perhaps only 10 will be viable.

    However, there’s also economic justification for keeping money circulating locally and minimizing the amount sent to China and Arkansas.

    Anyone notice how Arkansas is well represented in both parties for the 2008 election with Hillary and Huckabee?


  6. - Bluefish - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 10:03 am:

    The ordinance will ensure that city folks will need to keep coming out here to the suburbs to shop at affordable places like Walmart and Target. Fine by me. We’re always glad to get the sales tax revenue.


  7. - Levois - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 10:10 am:

    I hope they didn’t ask people who are already doing well job wise. They should have polled a struggling community who can use Wal-Mart jobs.


  8. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 10:12 am:

    Build the stores 74,999 sq ft. Wal Mart is far from perfect, but they still provide an important service. How much will they pay people w/o this stupid ordinance? Why are they being held to a different standard thant he minumum wage? 5 hours for benefits? People will vote with their wallets. This is just a starting points for negotiations.


  9. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 10:15 am:

    And, if they build ‘em in the close by burbs, Chicago stores will still shutter and jobs will be lost. Wonder if this was factored in the survey.


  10. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 10:17 am:

    Wal-Mart is not the best corporate citizen. However, it cannot be ignored that the sales tax, property tax, corporate tax and even income tax revenues that come from a Wal-Mart store are quite large. Chicago schools, for which the politicians are clamoring for more funds, would benefit immensely. Wal-Mart would be willing to pay higher taxes in Chicago if it meant being able to tap into one of the largest consumer markets in the country. And the jobs that would be provided would easily help out areas with high unemployment. Remember, Wal-Mart has many decent-to-well-paying jobs available, and they do allow for ladder climbing within the company. If Wal-Mart opened up a couple of distribution centers in Chicago, those jobs would pay $20 an hour with some benefits. That’s not too shabby, even for an urban area.


  11. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 10:35 am:

    Team Sleep, you need to wake up. Any increased tax revenues coming from Wal-Mart are more than offset by the American manfucaturing jobs shipped overseas, local retailers put out of business, Wal-Mart employees on public assistance, and environmental impact of big box stores and their big box run-off.

    And Leroy, you obviously don’t spend much time shopping in Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods. There are plenty of low-cost places to shop, from the Dollar General store, Jewel, Dominick’s, Walgreens and Ace Hardware to independent retailers. What there is a shortage of is good-paying jobs with good benefits, something Wal-Mart will not be providing.

    As for the opportunities for advancement, I suggest you see the Wal-Mart movie. After chasing the promise of a management position for months, one Wal-Mart employee ticked off a list of her accomplishments to the store manager and asked her if she was being denied advancement because she was a woman, or because she was black. He responded “Two out of two ain’t bad.” There’s a reason that Wal-Mart was the subject of the largest sex discrimination settlement in U.S. history.

    For christ’s sake, this is a company that systematically locks immigrants up like prisoners in the building alone at night to clean the floors and then leaves. Do you really think they want to build a store in Pilsen because they care about Latinos?


  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 10:38 am:

    Truthful James — a great argument for a countywide and statewide Big Box law. Thanks dude.

    Maybe we should cut American factory workers’ pay to $5 a day to keep Whirlpool from relocating from Herrin, Illinois to Mexico.


  13. - Wal-mart antagonist - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 12:15 pm:

    I recently went to a Wal-Mart because I needed an item which only they had at the price I was willing to pay (cheap). On principal I usually avoid Wal-Mart because of all of the arguments about the hidden costs, tax payer subsidies, what the effects are for labor, etc. After going there I really won’t shop there again. Besides the terrible customer service, unkempt aisles and a manager nowhere to be found, I saw in one startling example Wal-Mart’s attitude toward its workers. There was a pregnant woman working, her belly was so big she had to have her hand under it to offset the weight of it. I thought she definately was too late in her pregnancy to be working, especially standing. They didn’t let her have a stool or a chair to rest in between customers while she was working at the cash register. My wife started tearing up as we watched her working. I know she needs the job, I’m sure she needs the money, but Wal-Marts are not the answer. They are a huge corporation. They seek profits that’s it. They exploit local governements, taxpayers and their own employees for money.
    Often when Wal-Marts move into a community: wages drop, small businesses close and property values drecrease. The local governement also is often asked to subsidise the building of the new store for the promise of all the tax revenue the store will supposedly generate. If they refuse, the Walmart opens up just outside of the city or county to spite the government that wouldn’t play ball their way.
    You can see some figures on the costs to the taxpayer and community here: http://wakeupwalmart.com/facts/#taxpayers

    Finally, I want to say this in response to Wumpus. People don’t vote with their wallets. I do, but I’m middle class. Voting with your wallet is a luxury. If you have no transportation, you can’t drive somewhere else to shop. If you don’t have money you buy the cheapest closest thing you can. Many people have to shop at Wal-Marts or dollar stores, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t rather eat organic food or buy fresh instead of canned vegetables. I can decide not to shop somewhere out of principle, but many lower income people, whom supposedly the Wal-Mart advocates are defending, can’t. We don’t know what policies people advocate based on where or what they buy. Voting with your wallet is a myth that we should do away with.


  14. - The Conservative - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 12:31 pm:

    Wal-mart should continue to build where business is receptive and let the jobs go where they are appreciated. Perhaps those looking for the job will replace their officials that gave away their jobs.


  15. - Gregor - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 12:33 pm:

    The bad that comes with Walmart outweighs the good they claim to bring. Time after time there are plenty of examples of where they break or skirt the rules or pay off or intimidate local governments thru “lobbying” efforts to get their way. A line has to be drawn.

    I’ll bet you IKEA would have no problem with the proposed ordinances.


  16. - The Conservative - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 12:40 pm:

    As long as they have a good product at a competitive price they will continue to do well. Nobody is forced to work where they do not want to.


  17. - DOWNSTATE - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 12:42 pm:

    Once again we see how a Democratic stronghold goes for a Socialist form of home rule.Wal-Mart should build store after store 5 foot from city limits.


  18. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 12:43 pm:

    “…Jewel, Dominick’s, Walgreens and Ace Hardware…”

    Low cost places to shop? Not in my neighborhood they. They certainly are not low cost places to shop compared to Wal-Mart. And Dollar General does not have anything close to the selection that Wal-Mart offers.


  19. - voice of reason - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 12:58 pm:

    Have to agree that any good from Wal-Mart outweighs the bad.

    That said, laws/ordinances that specifically target one company–however carefully veiled in the appropriate language–are at least morally suspect if not illegal or unconstitutional.

    Wal-Mart is just the best example of the American ideal of capitalism. They do it better than anyone. So, let them come, let them build. As long as all the free-market conservatives don’t complain later when jobs are relocated to other countries–that’s just healthy competition in the marketplace.

    And as long as we don’t undermine the competitive open market by giving them subsidies–TIF funds, property tax breaks, sales tax abatements–which they’ve recieved from other places all over the country.

    How can the company with the best bottom line in the world need a subsidy? If it’s not profitable to put a store somewhere, then don’t put it there.


  20. - ron - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 1:00 pm:

    Yellow Dog Democrat
    please change your indentifying name. after reading your comments above, you are no yellow dog democrat, as defined over the years by true yellow dog democrats. you are spouting liberal/socialist rhetoric . come on out of the closet. i suggest changing your name to liberal left democrat f.n.a. yellow dog democrat. Your comment about state and country wide big box store legislation was the topper. talk about socialist engineering policy.


  21. - Maroon - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 1:01 pm:

    A similar poll would also advocate raising the minimum wage to $20 an hour. Which would be a job killer.

    No respectable economist denies that raising the minimum wage (via salary or benefits) is a job killer. It takes leadership to explain to the people that these policies sound all nice and well, but lead to increased unemployment and long-term negative economic outcomes.


  22. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 1:03 pm:

    The poor should save big money at Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift stores and garage sales. Like Dollar General, Aldi, and Save-A-Lot are also much less costly.


  23. - SenorAnon - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 1:44 pm:

    Team Sleep,

    Wal-Mart typically arranges to get out of property taxes for 20-years. After that, they’re known to close that store and move on.

    And you’re all forgetting the Wal-Mart health care plan. Here’s a hint - you’re paying for most of it (so stop complaining about AllKids). It’s called Medicaid.

    So let’s cut the charade of the free market. If the market were truly free, Wal-Mart and other companies would rise and fall on their own merits - without giant tax breaks and government handouts.

    Now, those companies create jobs and revenue, to be sure. So there is a sound rationale for giving them incentives. Just don’t call it pure free-market capitalism.


  24. - ZC - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 2:14 pm:

    When exactly did some floor-level minimum wage become equivalent to socialism? Holy cow, people. There is still such a thing as poor worker exploitation. Left unregulated, some employers would manage to fool their workers into ridiculously low compensation levels (probably non-English-speaking immigrants, legal or illegal). Adam Smith’s invisible hand doesn’t monitor 24-7. I’d need to read up a lot more econ lit to know whether $10 is considered too high for all entry-level jobs in a depressed Chicago neighborhood. I agree that $20 certainly would be too high. But it sounds to me like some of the posters here would consider a wage floor of even $2 to be a commie plot.


  25. - Wile Coyote - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 2:18 pm:

    I know this isn’t part of the big picture, but is there enough work for the AFL-CIO building trades that 20 new stores wouldn’t be misssed? (P.S.: Didn’t you hear, Hillary is a New Yorker!)


  26. - ron - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 2:39 pm:

    zc
    economist have demonstrated over and over again every increase in the minimum wage hurts the poor. What is an acceptable living wage and benefit package? Let’s say it’s $12. don’t you think the companies are just going to raise prices and the products and services will cost more for the people on minimum wage. also, the minimum wage does not cover restaurant workers and agricultural workers. pay a person at mcdonalds and add in the chicago 9% sales tax, one on the highest in the country, and what do you think the hamberger and fries will cost? Minimum wage is a failed policy that has not worked, especially if it is set at the national and state level. how can you have the same minimum wage in chicago as downstate or the suburbs. it’s called social engineering. chicago is seeing the effect of this by seeing all the box stores build outside the city. chicago loses sales taxes and property taxes and the poor have to drive father to get the lower prices. just love those liberals who enjoy social engineering and think they know what is right for everyone. let’s take a look at some of the projects the alderman and mayor have supported over the years that have been utter failures. rich, that is a good question. name all the failed attempts by the city of chicago and how much they cost the taxpayers.


  27. - ChicagoCynic - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 2:41 pm:

    I’m a Democrat. I hate Walmart and think they are hurting the American economy. I favor a minimum wage increase. But this idea is just plain nuts. The smaller the government entity, the easier it is to work around idiotic laws like this one. This is why I favor a national increase in the minimum wage, not a local one.

    It’s not that I have anything against $10/hr. But this proposal completely ignores economic reality. Why should a 75,000 square foot store have to pay $10/hr while a 60,000 square foot store (not exactly mom and pop) gets to pay $6/hr. Gee, I wonder who will be able to sell goods for less.

    This once again shows why our city council isn’t just overpaid, but worse than worthless. The biggest beneficiaries of this ordinance will be Evanston, Skokie, Rosemont, Oak Park, etc. who I’m sure are rooting for its passage.


  28. - ChicagoCynic - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 2:46 pm:

    Ron,

    You are absolutely wrong on the minimum wage and the data do not support your position. Every time Democrats have fought for an increase in the minimum wage, Republicans have said it will destroy jobs and the economy. Guess what, it never happens.

    A reasonable $7-8/hr. min. wage supports low wage workers without putting an undue burden on employers whereas an excessively high minimum wage (a la Germany and France) does hurt the economy and destroys jobs. The trick is to have a happy medium. We’ve swung so far from that now that clearly corrective action is in order.


  29. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 2:47 pm:

    The minimum wage is a scam. In its origin, the minimum wage was supposed to be an entry level wage for a single young man or young woman. As skills were acquired wages would rise and the worker would leave the home or shared housing with savings and meet, court and marry a spouse. No self respecting father would let his daughter marry a person who could not produce enpough income to keep his wife in the standard to which she had become accustomed. This was basic family economics. In those days as well, public housing was a way station on the way to better things.

    Then the politicians discovered that they could keep their base in place on welfare in deteriorating private or public housing. They also found out that the minimum wage could be excessively taxed. Considering FICA and Medicare and withholding, the low wage earers are subjected to the most regressive tax in society.

    That is one of the reasons for the Gray Market, where a worker can rfeceive in cash more take home pay than he could receive under the current Federal system. There, the minimum wage is just a marker.

    Jobs have economic worth to the employer. Raising the minimum wage assumes that he has excess profits which can be used for social welfare or that he can rise his prices to account for the higher cost of doing business. That is an indirect social welfare cost on the remainder of society.

    It is like shoplifting. All of you writers who have run a store in the worst parts of the City raise your hand. Not so many, I see. For the rest of you, you will understand that when an item is purloined off my shelves, I lose the cost of the item and the mark-up it bore — not just my profit. In order to purchase the replacement item I must reach into my pocket and pay the additional cost, a tax on my income. I have less money to expand my inventory, to pay my employees. I have no ability to raise my prices, given competition from the next neighborhood store.

    To the discussion. There is no labor available at $2.00, either under the table or on top. In fact, you can’t find workers for less than the minimum wage in cash. I pondered why this is so. Through talking with my people I find that This concealed Gray Market wage did not disqualify either the person or his family from receiving welfare as well — and being Medicaid eligible in some cases.


  30. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 3:22 pm:

    Chicago Cynic –

    The only happy mediums are gypsy fortunetellers.

    I will say again. The minimum wage is not meant to support a family of four — or even two. It may require that a single person live at home and contribute to the family rent or even share a multi bedroom apartment. It will require TV dinners, washing clothes at the laundromat, public transportation. It isn’t easy, but it can be done and has been done by many generations. Cigarette smoking may have been placed out of your price range, thanks to the County and the City. These are incentives to earn more so you can do more things.

    The illegal alien families should have taught you one thing. four working at the minimum wage live together mmaybe buy a junker car and even save enough money to wire back to the homeland. One key. They have no credit cards.


  31. - Anony - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 3:34 pm:

    Chicago Cynic, a major cause of the economy struggling over in Europe (especially France) are the labor laws, which make it almost impossible for employers to fire employees, even for fairly strong offenses (just one law among many, see various labor rioting over the past 6 months). The minimum wage problem is also present over there, but it is only part of the problem.


  32. - Beowulf - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 3:39 pm:

    I wonder what percentage of the 500 Chicagoans polled on this WalMart issue also are currently on some form of public assistance? I have a visual image of these Chicago people that were polled as hanging around on the street corners with their hands outstretched for a dollar saying “You owe me! The world owes me a living.”

    Probably an unfair mental image on my part but it is ridiculous that these people feel entitled to tell Walmart or anyone else what the minimum wage should be. WalMart is doing them a favor by coming into their area. If I was WalMart, I would “catch their drift” and look elsewhere. No wonder the “sane” Chicago residents have been fleeing Chicago for the western and southern suburbs. There must be some hallucinogenic drug in the water supply in Chicago that makes people feel entitled to freeload on the rest of the state’s taxpayers or anybody else that they can get away with it.


  33. - ZC - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 3:59 pm:

    I may have missed some chain in the logic, but how exactly does Chicago refusing to host WalMarts rob or freeload on the rest of the state’s taxpayers? Or how does it “freeload” on WalMart? WalMart doesn’t have to move to Chicago. Nobody’s holding a gun to its head.


  34. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 4:24 pm:

    Walmart will skip Chicago and build 10 feet over the boundary. How many thousands of people already work for less than $10/no benefits in their existing job in the small mom/pops, hotels, restaurants, and factories based in Chicago? Not saying right or wrong. This proposal makes great PR, but fairness does not seem to even be a consideration. Raise minimum wage to $10. Employer will simply move their cost along by raising prices which simply raises the economic base. How long they last will depend on how much demand there is for that product. On the cold side, if you are making under $10 an hour what skill do you bring to your employer beside your hands that makes you worth any more than your current wage?


  35. - ChicagoCynic - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 4:26 pm:

    Anony334, I completely agree with you that a major problem for European economies are the labor laws. As an employer myself who actually believes in a serious work ethic (when not blogging here of course), I couldn’t help but laugh heartily at these whiny, pampered French kids who complained that under the proposed rule changes, they could be fired if they did a bad job. Gee, wonder what the problem is over there.

    That said, I still maintain that a reasonable minimum wage is a legitimate societal interest and that a proper balancing can result in better conditions for low-wage workers without hurting the economy.

    It’s funny, I vividly remember every Republican in Congress (especially Bob Dole and Phil Gramm) guaranteeing a massive recession and possibly a depression if Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax increases became law. His budget and tax increases passed with nary a R vote to be had. Last time I checked, the Clinton years weren’t exactly a bad economic time, now were they…


  36. - Old Elephant - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 5:11 pm:

    The real irony is that so many people who attack Wal-Mart also defend programs like “All Kids” which is the a huge taxpayer-paid giveaway to Wal-Mart at the expense of employers who voluntarily provide health care to their employees.

    Governor Blagojevich gave Wal-Mart a multi-million dollar benefit by instituting All Kids and structuring it so that employers who refuse to provide health care benefit at the expense of employers who are trying to provide health care to their employees.

    A much better alternative would have been to offer credits to employers who provide health care and make it available to all employers. The way “All Kids” is structured, the responsible, small business owner who is struggling to provide health care for his or her employees gets no benefit, while the big box companies that don’t provide any health care benefits get taxpayers to subsidize insurance for their employees.


  37. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 6:24 pm:

    Old Elephant -

    When Frank Watson and Tom Cross co-sponor legislation requiring all employers to offer health care, I’ll gladly push Madigan and Jones to co-sponsor legislation ending AllKids.

    Yellow Dog


  38. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 7:17 pm:

    Look at the Dept of Commerce & Economic Opp regional maps and the listing they provide as to who the big employers are. The government, health industry and then walmart. This is common around central, southwesten and southeastern IL. Even in the Peoria area they list CAT as well as walmart. Let Chicago do what they want with walmart. The city will be the first to complain about no jobs, tax revenue, etc. I’m sure there are other areas that would welcome walmart.


  39. - Gregor - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 7:32 pm:

    There was this town that didn’t want Walmart; they wrote the zoning to restrict the size of stores to half the size of a standard Walmart. Thought they were safe. Walmart bought two contiguous lots, built two half-size Walmarts (calling one a “Garden Center”)with a dog-trot between them. But shared parking lot, driveways, utilities, etc. They won’t take a hint that they are not wanted.


  40. - NI80 - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 7:53 pm:

    Studies done on Wal-Mart have overwhelmingly shown that they do not bring to the community what they promise at the table. For example, a Wal-Mart opens in a community, it promises 55 new jobs. Great!! Fantastic!! Except a year later, they no longer need all 55 employees-they only needed that amount for the first year of business because the store was doing so well. So now they only need 45 employees. In that same year a locally owned automotive/tire joint goes out of business, along with a photographer, a salon, and an eye doctor. At the end of the year the community hasn’t gained 55 jobs, its lost 18-20 jobs and because in order for Wal-Mart to bring its low costs to the area, it was given multiple tax breaks and a TIF was possibly created. So, not only is there no new money going to any of the area schools (because of the TIF), the city/community has given the massive grossing corporate giant $20,000 (of your money) to open there as an incentive, and as mentioned earlier, all sorts of added breaks. Then, 10 years later Wal-Mart decides its not making enough money in this particular community, so they move on and leave their building, but refuse to sell to any company that might potentially be a competitor (K-Mart, Target, Auto Zone, etc.). Or, they decide to become a Super Wal-Mart, and essentially do the very same thing as they would had they moved out of town, only they buy up another property, demand more tax incentives, and need no new jobs for the Super Wal-Mart, but actually cost the community MORE jobs because after all, Super Wal-Marts have everything and can kill any small locally owned business. This is Wal-Mart. Still think their low costs are such a great deal? Are you still excited when they are a huge reason the U.S. is losing manufacturing jobs? Wal-Mart, at the beginning of their rise, were hugely appealing because the draw was everything was made in America. American made, the money stays here and goes to hardworking citizens like yourself. Then they slowly and quietly moved their operations elsewhere, costing more jobs than most of you can fathom. This is the great corporation you are defending. Sure, much like Maryland this ordinance would be narrowly geared at Wal-Mart, but think about it—Wal-Mart is the only one of the big corporations you know of (Target, K-Mart, Menards, Lowes) that underpays their employees, close down local merchants, and doesn’t offer anything close to adequate health care. The other companies don’t need to be told how to follow the law instead of skirting it.


  41. - Papa Legba - Wednesday, Jun 21, 06 @ 9:45 pm:

    Wow. Gee. The way everybody is describing how Wal-Mart treats their employees is describing exactly how this administration treats employees at the state who were hired prior to Blago taking office.


  42. - 4% - Thursday, Jun 22, 06 @ 12:30 am:

    They avoided the constitutional question by including all stores greater than 75,000 sqaure feet which also generally included Home Depot, Menards, and Walmart.

    I find it fascinating that the UFCW union which has backed this idea for years also just cut deals with other major food retailers that pay that members barely more than $7 an hour. So now they are going to mandate that others pay more.

    As for the poll, I could get George Ryan and Scott Fawell 84 percent approval ratings if you let me ask the question. Interestingly enough, I did not see any major papers actually report the EXACT question.

    Finally, look at Evergreen Park and their new WalMart. 24,000 (yes, that was 24,000) people applied for the 400 or so jobs. Ask them and others in poor communities if they need jobs. Sure not going to get them under the current Governor.

    Rod, by the way, look at the latest job numbers that just came out…manufacturing DOWN 3000 jobs and 32,000 now off the unemployment list.


  43. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jun 22, 06 @ 2:18 am:

    This is an issue I struggle with. I have two adult daughters who won’t go inside a Wal-Mart, and berate me (mildly) when I do.

    At the same time, I have enough experience in Chicago to know that many poor areas have nowhere to shop at competitive prices, and nowhere to work at $8/hr and no benefits.

    I agree that working full time and qualifying for medicaid isn’t good, but not working and qualifying for medicaid doesn’t seem to me to be a hell of a lot better.

    The one major company I have seen repeatedly willing to open and maintain stores in poor inner city neighborhoods is Walgreens, and I think they should be applauded for that. But, I suspect their wage scales and benfits aren’t much better than Wal-Marts, and Wal-Mart should be condemned for the same thing?

    I wish I was as sure as some of you are what the right answer is, but I confess I’m not. As a Republican, I generally believe that people who can work are better off working than not working. I think there is inherent value in work.

    I know poor people and others on fixed incomes stretch every penny, and paying lower prices is what they prefer (and need). On the other hand, I’m told there is too great a societal cost in allowing them to do that at Wal-Mart.

    I am reminded of the old saw about raising the minimum wage to $25/hr and making everyone middle class. My old economics classes tell me that wouldn’t work. I don’t know if $10 does work.

    I think this is a hard one to answer for anyone who sees gray, not black and white.


  44. - North of I-80 - Thursday, Jun 22, 06 @ 3:12 am:

    If they vote these silly rules for Walmart, they will deserve what they get: Walmart setting up 20 shops OUTSIDE the city where all of the tax benefits go to other villages / cities. How would you like having these government wizards telling YOU how you will run your business in their city; what you will pay your employees; what benefits you will give them etc ?? Government officials do such a wonderful job running city business so efficiently I am sure Walmart will listen to these guys.


  45. - Leroy - Thursday, Jun 22, 06 @ 6:15 am:

    >Finally, look at Evergreen Park and their new
    >WalMart. 24,000 (yes, that was 24,000) people
    >applied for the 400 or so jobs.

    This was a *wonderful* marketing gimmick by someone at Walmart. By putting out this ’story’, everyone within 150 miles of Chicago knew there was a new Walmart going up in Evergreen Park, because everyone started talking about how much this was a travesty.

    Of course, there is absolutely no way to verify the claim of 24,000 people applying for jobs (which if you stop and think about it is quie impossible), so this makes a wonderful piece of marketing propaganda for Walmart.

    Good work helping to promote their agenda.


  46. - The Conservative - Thursday, Jun 22, 06 @ 7:09 am:

    I say build them and they will come. It is not the Governments business to mandate health insurance or wages. The natural business demands will raise or lower wages. If a competitor pays higher than Wal-Mart, then their best employees will leave. We are a capitolist country, stop trying to make it a Socialist country. If you do not want a company in your area, do not shop or work there, they will go where they can sell their product. Government is for National defense not creating welfare.


  47. - Truthful James - Thursday, Jun 22, 06 @ 8:27 am:

    NI80 –

    “Studies show” Would you be so kind as to document this generic generality, please, instead of hiding behind it.

    It is up to the municipality which is being asked to provide benefits to negotiate hard and make sure that the lease does not include a freeze out.

    It is not unusual for any of the big boxes which don’t own the property but lease from a third party to try to include a clause like this. Don’t let it happen. Any redevelopment agreement can be structured to eliminate these risks. Tax abatement goes away if you close, TIF benefits die and a recapture from the the corporation takes place through a vesting/divesting clause.

    If there are no benefits promised then the free market works and it is up to the landlord to protect himself. If the Big Box owns the vacant property and refuses to sell it, they will undoubtedly try to get their property taxes lowered. Then it is up to the municipality to fight with the County Assessor not to lower the value.

    The reality is that in the remainder of the centert formerly anchored by a Big Box, the small boys went in and signed high rentleases counting on the presence of the Big Box to generate traffic. If BB closes, the small boys strangle.

    Downtowns in Illinois and in the midwest have been hurt by absentee landlords with fully depreciated property, off mortgage, parking metered and with economically obsolete second and third floors. These absentees are satisfied with low rents and they get low rent tenants. The cities and villages can influence this with programs such as TIF, done carefully.

    But that should be a second step to enforcing updated building and zoning codes — anything to get the absentees to sell to a new owner who needs higher rents and who fan find better stores. In Champaign in the 70s with the development of fringe shopping centers, the largest downtown store was an Army Navy surplus store. That does not make others crave to move downtown.


  48. Pingback » Stinky Polls » Musing Minds » Blog Archive » - Thursday, Jun 22, 06 @ 12:01 pm:

    […] I was reading one of my daily reads, The Capitol Fax Blog (Illinois politics from Springfield) and Rich had mentioned this Sun Times article about a poll of “500 registered voters” who think it’s better to make Wal-Mart and other “big-box” retailers pay out the nose for unskilled labor even if it keeps badly needed jobs out of the area. One of the poll suggestions, that respondents heartily agreed with, was that employees should be guaranteed $10 and hour plus $3 an hour in benefits for 5 hours a week. […]


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