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All in a day’s work

Thursday, Jul 27, 2006

Yesterday, the Chicago city council passed the “big box” ordinance.

Defying Mayor Daley and challenging Wal-Mart and Target to follow through on their threats, a bitterly divided City Council voted Wednesday to require Chicago’s big-box retailers to pay employees a “living wage” of at least $10 an hour and $3 in benefits by 2010.

The 35-14, veto-proof vote is an overwhelming victory for organized labor and the latest in a string of legislative defeats for a corruption-weakened Daley.

…Decided not to force dog owners to implant microchips in their pets.

“Let me talk to you about defecation. . . . Dog-do is the caviar of rats,” [Ald. Burt Natarus] said.

…And voted themselves a pay raise.

Chicago’s $98,125-a-year aldermen would see their salaries rise with the inflation rate over the next four years, under an ordinance approved Wednesday by a City Council that gave itself political cover.

By mandating wage and benefit standards for “big-box” retailers, aldermen can claim they did more than feather their own nests.

It was the third time a “living wage” was approved on the same day as an aldermanic pay raise. The last two times, the increase for Chicago’s working poor applied only to employees of city contractors.

The aldermanic pay raise was approved by a vote of 27-16.

[Emphasis added]

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 1:15 pm:

    It was indeed the 3rd time that they linked these types of issues in such a cowardly way. Except that this time, they won’t buy themselves any cover by doing it. There are going to be a lot of crybaby Aldermen shaking in their boots when the 5th floor doesn’t come running to their rescue in February. And for good reason.

  2. - The Conservative - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 1:24 pm:

    If I where Wal-Mart or any of the other stores that the city is Blackmailing, I would build just across the border and tell them I could not hire anyone from Chicago. If members of the city council decide what is a living wage , and that it must be what they passed then that salary should not have to pay any deductions. Let’s see how serious Chicago is. Put your money where your mouth is, NO deductions of any kind.

  3. - HANKSTER - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 1:37 pm:

    Everytime working people have fought for a higher minimum wage, or when they fought for the weekend, a 40 hour work week, child labor laws…each time we have heard the same argument, business will suffer, unemployment will rise, it will hurt the worker. But throughout history this has not been the case. Still we hear the same played out arguments.

  4. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 1:41 pm:

    Hank, and I’m sure the Council was thinking about the working class folks when they raised their 98K salaries that were just bumped up 15% four years ago. Transparent and shameless.

  5. - So-Called - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 1:44 pm:

    “Dog-do is the caviar of rats”

    Little known fact: Rats eat dog-do on toast points.

  6. - HANKSTER - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 1:48 pm:

    Anonymous…they raised their pay so that makes the big box bad? Is that what you are saying because I did not metion anything about their pay.

  7. - Truthful James - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 1:49 pm:

    Where would the Council be without Burt the Shirt. Beware, gentlemen — if he retires, leaves his position and goes back into the general population, he will lower the IQ of each.

  8. - econguru - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 2:01 pm:

    In case you were interested, HANKSTER, 40 hour work weeks can be bad for people too. Consider people who are interested in working more hours (to pay for a new TV, vacation, etc.), but can’t because their company has to pay them overtime, and won’t schedule them any more hours, even though they would be willing to work for their normal pay beyond the 40 hour limit. Just a thought.

  9. - econguru - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 2:04 pm:

    In addition, HANKSTER, people who “fought for the weekend” also applies under my previous argument, as there are people who are willing to work through the weekend at times to get a little extra cash. The problem lies in a mandate by government over people’s choices in work preferences by ordaining a 40-hour work week, etc. in disregard to the personal preferences of people.

  10. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 2:43 pm:

    Lordy! Ain’t we intellectual!
    I think Chicago should just go all the way. Ban any businesses that do not offer dream jobs with full health benefits, vacations, sick leave, lots of pay and must hire anyone who applies for jobs; oh, and they must serve toast points, I hear. Lets go full tilt and create that utopia!

    Will the last person leaving Chicago please turn off the light?

  11. - Garp - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 2:57 pm:

    How can I get the roll call of the votes to see how each alderman voted?

  12. - The Conservative - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 3:03 pm:

    What ever happened to Free enterprise? If Wal-Mart or whatever company isn’t paying a big enough salary, and the work force can make more elsewhere then they will. It is not the council’s business to demad such of business. Safety rules are one thing, salary is what ever the worker will accept and the company is willing to pay to maintain a profit. If the company has to pay a higher salary, then they get to expect more from the employee or they should be fired. Welcome to the New world of the Socialist Democratic Party. Remember folks Russia fell apart under Socialism.

  13. - Bill - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 3:21 pm:

    Wow, the right wingers are out in force today….That damned 40 hour week is ruining America. If only we could hire children to work 16 hours a day for 20 cents an hour then we could compete with red china in the world market.

  14. - Wal-mart antagonist - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 3:27 pm:

    Wal-Mart, being the leader in the industry,sets the standards for wages, benefits and many other aspects of the giant retailer business. Econguru seems to have forgotten his history and that work hours are restricted because private industries forced people to work 60, 70, 80 hour weeks or get fired. If you wouldn’t kill yourself for the industrial revolution…someone else would. Hence unions and labor laws came to be.

    Yeah, this is a strong union town (and state), but Socialist or Communist it is not.
    Conservative ought to remember The Soviet Union was a COMMUNIST country, where the state owns all the industry. Canada and Europe are more Socialist with minimum wage laws, a very generous unempolyment net and socialized medicine…they haven’t collapsed yet. But keep waiting, you’ll win that argument yet!

  15. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 3:28 pm:

    LOL. Yep, Bill, the problem, see is that so many 12 year old children WANT to work in unsafe coal mines for 10 cents an hour, 80 hours a week, but that bad ol’ government won’t let them.

  16. - econguru - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 3:34 pm:

    Thank you Bill, for introducing the hyperbole into the comments section. I was attempting to make a cogent point, but unfortunately, some people have to resort to extremes to cover up their lack of viable counter-arguments. I fully realize the problems possible without any standards that government supports. However, I question whether we have achieved a necessary medium between open markets and government protections. Too much of one (or the other) can be potentially harmful. To the other extreme, I would suggest looking at France, specifically, the shorter workweek, massive government health care supports and protectionism. Is that what we truly want here? The French economy is suffering and slowing Europe to a torpid pace in the world economy.

  17. - Levois - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 3:55 pm:

    Not a good decision, but time will only tell if this ordinance will net negative results.

  18. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 3:58 pm:

    So-Called: LOL!!

    Please, someone tell me again, what is Burt Natarus’s obsession with fecal matter?

  19. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 4:06 pm:

    P.S. I really don’t want to hear allies of THE WORLD’S LARGEST IMPORTER FROM CHINA complaining about Communism. Thank you.

  20. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 4:11 pm:

    P.P.S. Maybe if Chicago actually did turn Communist, Wal-Mart would start buying goods made here instead of from Beijing?

  21. - doubtful - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 4:27 pm:

    Wal-Mart and Target will stop hem hawing and build in Chicago. It just comes down to profit, and they can afford to pay those wages and still make a profit. Hell, for all the ads Wal-Mart has been running, they probably could’ve paid a the extra wages for a year.

  22. - Disgusted Democrat - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 4:27 pm:

    ‘Dog-doo is the caviar of rats’

    Well, Burt Natarus won’t go hungery.

  23. - fedup dem - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 4:28 pm:

    Mayor Daley may yet veto the Big Box ordinance, particularly if his legal people can come up with enough constitutional objections to give Daley lackeys like Aldermen Pope, Cardenas, Solis and Reboyras the fig leaf of an excuse to change their votes on an override effort.

  24. - Speedy - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 4:44 pm:

    Is how each of the aldermen voted online somewhere, or do we not need to know that?

  25. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 5:00 pm:

    I would be shocked if Daley were dumb enough to veto a measure that has the support of 85% of voters. If he were going to do that, he would’ve vetoed the smoking ban, which he also opposed.

    And it better be a pretty big fig leaf, considering similar bans are in effect in Santa Fe and San Francisco.

  26. - todd - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 5:05 pm:

    Garp, drop 50 cents and buy todays trib.

  27. - Tom DeLay's Mom - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 5:18 pm:

    If “dog-do is the caviar of rats” - it’s a fair bet that the City Council will soon be banning “dog-do”…Natarus isn’t quite sure what caviar is, but hes pretty sure it’s a delicacy just like foie gras, therefore it must be banned.

    Which begs the question: does Wal-Mart sell dogs without bowels?

  28. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 6:05 pm:


    Speaking of hyperbole, are you playing the France card? Until the US passes a law guaranteeing employment for all, I think we can leave the French comparison hyperbole bs out of this discussion.

    P.S. The city council votes can be found at Except the site probably won’t be updated as often, given Laski’s post-conviction resignation. Btw: Laski was the first clerk to post any city council votes in a way average citizens could access.

  29. - Bubs - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 6:43 pm:

    Somebody slap me! We are paying these guys $100,000 per year to discuss the finer points of dog doo?

    Next they are going to call in Triumph as an expert witness. I can just see him addressing that noble body:

    “Dees Ceety Cown-sel is wohn-der-ful . . . FOR ME TO POOP ON!!!!”

  30. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 7:06 pm:

    Chicago alderman get a raise (Democrat controlled). State legislators get a raise (Democrat controlled). State union workers get several raises a year (Democrat controlled). Rod’s hires get HUGE raises (Democrat controlled).

    Holdover Republicans in State government get nothing. Well, actually, they got their pay cut for two years. Nope, no discrimination there. So much for (Democrat) fairness.

  31. - Office of Intergovernmental Affairs - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 7:17 pm:

    Anonymous 7:06-

    Could you point out those few remaining Republicans? We must have missed them in our past “reviews.” We’ll get them this time!

    Thank you.

  32. - econguru - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 7:44 pm:

    47th Ward, I made the reference to the economic situation in France (and to the broader Eurozone monetary community as a whole) as part of a riposte to Bill’s exaggeration of a open-market state. I doubt that the U.S. will pass such an employment act as seen in France, so I apologize for any misinterpreted hyperbole.

  33. - T$ - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 9:22 pm:

    You know, in a Sun-Times report a few years ago, they said dog doo was the filet mignon of rats.

    I like mine medium rare and wrapped in bacon.

  34. - The Conservative - Thursday, Jul 27, 06 @ 10:50 pm:

    Why are you complaining where Wal-Mart buys it’s merchandise? You shop and buy it. I truly hope Wal-mart and many other retailers stay out of Chicago, let them eat cake.

  35. - the Other Anonymous - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 4:40 pm:

    Econguru: we could do a lot worse than being like France. I lived there for a while, and their social problems — despite all the talk of high unemployment, stagnant economy, etc. — are no worse than here in the US. The standard of living is quite high, health care is accessible to all, and social services are far more extensive than in the US. Even so, people who are clever and work hard can become quite well-off — just like in the US.

    Your description of France is, as they would say, a canard.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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