Council Could Vote on Wal-Mart Today

Retail giant wants to build dozens in the city

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    Discount shoppers could know soon if Chicago will get its second Wal-Mart.
     
    The  City Council's zoning committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether the retailer can build a store on the far South Side.
     
    Plans to let Wal-Mart Stores Inc. expand inside the city limits have been on hold while the giant retailer and unions negotiate over wages that labor leaders have complained are too low.

    Walmart on Monday offered to pay workers a minimum of $8.75 an hour in return for the ability to build dozens of stores around the city.

    Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) announced the wage concession after a meeting with city unions and representatives of the Arkansas-based retailer. 

    Beale said that although the new wage offering isn't completely what unions wanted -- they'd demanded that Walmart pay its workers a living wage of at least $11.03 -- the current economic climate and the promise of new jobs is just too great to pass up

    Chicago Mayor Richard Daley tried to up the ante late Wednesday, when he convinced Wal-Mart to agreed to pay "the best" Chicago employees $9.50 per hour after one year.
     
    “Within a year, if you have good attendance and work habits, they can get you up to $9.50” an hour, the mayor said in advance of the vote.
     
    Wal-Mart officials would not confirm the wage discussion, but said regular raises are part of the company culture.
     
    Daley is rooting for Wal-Mart because he says the recession has made jobs evaporate. Daley has questioned opposition to Wal-Mart's expansion in the city when the retailer operates stores in the surrounding suburbs.
     
    Discussions have been going on for years.