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Big-Box Ordinance Passes

By Joanna Miller in News on Jul 27, 2006 12:23PM

2006_07_27target.jpgIt’s official. Big-box stores will have to pay a higher minimum wage and benefits to Chicago employees. After more than three hours of debate yesterday, the City Council voted 35-14 to approve the hotly contested big-box measure.

Stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and Costco will be affected by the new ordinance, as well as certain department store locations. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is expected to fight the measure in court, claiming it is unconstitutional. A Maryland court rejected arguments by Wal-Mart and Target that a similar law is unconstitutionally discriminatory. It did, however, overturn a law that singled out Wal-Mart’s health care benefits.
We’ll also have to wait and see if big-box stores like Target make good on threats to scrap plans for new Chicago stores. Mayor Daley said jobs will be lost as a result of the ordinance, but supporters believe the Chicago market is too big and potentially lucrative to ignore.

Wal-Mart has touted the measure as a $65 million decision, suggesting approval would mean those dollars going outside the city. Our friends at the Beachwood Reporter, who must have been paying attention in math class while we doodled, say the numbers don’t add up. Bottom line: Wal-Mart and its cohorts can afford the wage increase. Whether they choose to remains to be seen.

Target escalators via paytonc