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Walmart in polls and at the polls

[UPDATED]  Again with the polls — Walmart has a full-page ad in the paper today touting three polls showing over 70 percent support for a Walmart on the South Side.

Of course, the next question is not asked.  It’s this:  do you think Walmart and other big businesses should pay a living wage?

In fact, as Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative reminds us, when voters were asked the followup question, they responded overwhelmingly in the affirmative.

In voter referendums in 300 precincts during the campaign for a living wage ordinance in 2005 and 2006, voters supported a requirement that big box stores pay a living wage by margins in the 80 percent range.  Patel points out that support for the ordinance was strongest in African American precincts.

In 2007, when the living wage ordinance was a major issue in a number of aldermanic elections, supporters of the ordinance carried the day by a wide margin.

Those are the polls the politicians care about – and that’s why, for all the outrage of editorial boards and columnists demanding full deference to the world’s largest corporation, there’s a limit on what Walmart can do in Chicago.

Even Mayor Daley recognizes it, so far at least, declining to approve the 83rd Street Walmart without Council backing.  And whenever an amended redevelopment agreement for the site is brought forward, the Good Jobs Chicago coalition intends to ensure that alderman get to vote on adding a community benefits agreement guaranteeing decent wages and benefits, and local hiring and investment.  And all these people can count votes.

Good Jobs Chicago has been canvassing the 9th and 21st wards and reports residents are responsive to their message.

“People hear only one side of the story – that a Walmart job is better than no job,” said Latrell Smith, an organizer with Action Now.  “When they hear the other side, it hits them that $8 an hour won’t begin to cover basic necessities or get people off public assistance.  Almost everyone we talked to agreed it’s a good thing to set reasonable standards for the ‘big boxes.'”

Patel applauded Ald. Edward Burke’s proposal to require a living wage of companies receiving city subsidies (withdrawn Monday after business leaders objected), noting similar measures have been passed in Denver and Pittsburgh. “It’s a great way to make sure development is creating good jobs,” she said.

Judging from polls, the ones where voters vote, Chicagoans would tend to agree.

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Category: development, elections, retail, Wal-Mart


4 Responses

  1. […] the original post:  Walmart at the polls – Newstips Blog Read also Karan Johar to Work With Aishwarya RaiBollywood Celebrites | Actors | Actress| Images | […]

  2. AnyJobIsntGoodEnoughForMe says:


    To add to this blog, on January 17th, over 1000 South Side residents and numerous aldermen got together to demand that all Big Box Developers pay their employees Living Wages, or $11/hr.


  3. hhartman says:

    Is there a double standard for Wal-Mart. Does the Wal mart rule, apply to Target, Walgreens, Dominick’s and other big box stores? It’s abouts jobs. I understood the starting wage was $10 per hour.

  4. Madeline Talbott says:

    There is a double standard for WalMart: they want to take our tax money through a TIF so the taxpayers of Chicago can pay the world’s largest and richest employer to come here (even though the Loyola University study shows that they DO NOT create jobs or tax revenue, because their jobs and taxes are offset by the jobs lost and tax revenue lost at the local businesses that go out of business), and then they want to pay their employees $8 an hour to start, which is minimum wage, so they can collect food stamps and KidCare from the taxpayers while they are working. That’s a double standard that should stop right now.

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