Wal-Mart Could Build Dozens of Stores in Chicago

Union says it hopes Mayor Daley can bring both sides back to the table

By Ivanna Hampton
|  Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010  |  Updated 8:00 AM CDT
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Wal-Mart is reportedly raising the stakes to expand in Chicago.

The world's largest retailer is offering to build "dozens" of small and large stores around the city if Mayor Daley can help broker an agreement between the chain and labor unions, sources tell the Sun-Times.

Mayor Daley told reporters Tuesday he left a meeting with Wal-Mart representatives in Oklahoma City last weekend feeling "encouraged."

In the past, Wal-Mart said it would build five supercenters in food deserts where residents don't have access to grocery stores.

"We operate different formats all over the world and, in every market where we do business, we're willing to do whatever it takes to be closer to our customers," said Wal-Mart spokesperson Steven Restivo. "Chicago is no different."

But it is.

Unions are demanding Wal-Mart pay its workers a living wage of at least $11.03.

The mayor stressed Wal-Mart means much-needed sales tax revenue for city coffers and jobs for the unemployed.

The City Council Zoning Committee is set to meet next Thursday. 

But the group has already chickened out bringing up the issue for a vote twice.

Until Wal-Mart and labor leaders can agree, a wave of new stores remains just a proposal on the table.

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