"Living Wage" Ordinance Proposal on Hold

Ald. Ed Burke thought he'd brokered an agreement with Wal-Mart's aldermanic allies

By BJ Lutz
|  Monday, Jan 11, 2010  |  Updated 4:15 PM CDT
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"Living Wage" Ordinance Proposal on Hold

Getty Images / J.D. Pooley

A Wal-Mart greeter waits to welcome new customers to the new 2,000 square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter store May 17, 2006 in Bowling Green, Ohio.

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An expanded "living wage" ordinance that would have set a new minimum wage for some businesses in Chicago fell apart in a Chicago City Council committee Monday.

The ordinance was directly tied to ongoing discussions over Wal-Mart Supercenters pitched for the 9th, 12th, 20th and 34th aldermanic wards.

Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, proposed that retailers with more than 50 employees that benefit "directly or indirectly" from city subsidies be required to pay employees at least $11.03 per hour.

It was up for a committee vote on Monday but postponed when naysayers grew louder.

The president and CEO of the illinois Retail Merchants Association called the proposal a "jobs killer."

"Nobody is going to leave, but they certainly would not invest in Chicago," Vite said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "We shouldn’t be putting roadblocks to employment up in Chicago," said David Vite.

Three years ago, Mayor Richard Daley's first veto as the city's chief executive was on a living-wage ordinance that would have required some stores to pay workers at least $10 an hour plus $3 in fringe benefits by the middle of this year. 

At the time, Daley said he agreed with the spirit of the ordinance but didn't think it would have been effective the way it was written.

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