Wal-Mart Offers $8.75 Minimum Wage

Zoning Committee to take up issue on Thursday

Hoping to win over the approval of Chicago's Zoning Committee, 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, the current economic climate and the promise of new jobs is just too great to pass up.

"There are some people who are on board with this development who ordinarily were not in support of, but through conversations and through education from Wal-Mart's standpoint, that they've changed their feelings about Wal-Mart," he said after the brief meeting at City Hall.

Walmart also agreed to make $20 million in charitable donations to the city, according to Beale.

Outside the building and in an adjacent hallway, dozens of demonstrators wore T-shirts and carried signs touting the jobs that additional stores would bring to the city.

The current minimum wage in the City of Chicago is $8.25.  The Chicago Federation of Labor demanded that Walmart pay its workers a living wage of at least $11.03.  The meeting, the CFL said, was not a back and forth discussion, but rather Walmart dictating to them what they were planning to do.

"We were presented with a last minute proposal in a “take it or leave it” manner," said CFL Secretary-Treasurer Jorge Ramirez, in a statement.  "We think the people of Chicago deserve better from the world’s largest retailer with a well-documented history of mistreating its employees.  Rather than spend millions on a public relations campaign, we believe they should direct that money toward their workers"

Walmart spokesman Hank Mullany said the world's largest retailer would bring 12,000 jobs to the city over five years.  Roughly 10,000 of them would be actual Walmart jobs, while another 2,000 would be construction jobs related to the development of the new stores.  He did not confirm the specific minimum wage to which the company had agreed.

Beale has long-wanted to bring a Walmart to his district's Pullman neighborhood.

If passed by the Zoning Committee, the full Chicago City Council would take up the issue on June 30.

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