Mayor Vetoes Chicago Big Box Ordinance

September 15, 2006 - 08:42

Last week, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley vetoed a proposed city ordinance that would have forced Big Box stores to pay employees at least $10 an hour plus $3 in benefits by 2010 (see the Aug.14 edition of GPN Weekly). The next day Chicago’s City Council failed by three votes to override Daley’s veto. It was the first time Daley had ever used his veto power in the 17 years he has been Chicago’s mayor.

Daley said he was in favor of paying higher wages to workers but he believed those regulations should be set by the state or federal government, not the city government. He said he feared Chicago would lose the jobs and tax revenue to surrounding suburban communities.

Chicago Alderman Joe Moore, a sponsor of the original ordinance, vowed to continue to push for the ordinance, telling the Chicago Tribune “I can assure you this issue will not go away.” Some aldermen said they would try to get similar legislation on the ballot in 2007 and let voters decide the issue. Other labor groups also said they would continue to push for a “living wage” law in Chicago.

In an article in the Tribune, Michael Lewis, a Wal-Mart senior vice president, said, “We commend Mayor Daley for vetoing the ordinance and ensuring more jobs, more convenience and more choice for Chicago working families.”

The ordinance would have impacted at least 40 existing retail stores in Chicago. After the City council passed the original ordinance, several retailers put their expansion plans on hold for Chicago. Chicago Alderman Danny Solis told the Tribune Wal-Mart officials had promised him the company would build at least five stores in the city if the ordinance was revoked.

Commenting on Daley’s actions, Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said, “This veto is a triumph of reason over politics.”

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