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Daley Thinks Chicago Should Follow the Suburban Lead on Wal-Mart

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 14, 2010 3:00PM


Following the defeat of 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke's proposal to impose an $11.03-an-hour wage on retail workers in stores that have received city subsidies, Mayor Daley lashed out at the public debate that has followed Wal-Mart's controversial plans to expand its business into the city. “These questions are not debated in the suburban area,” Daley said, waxing poetic on his favorite part of the region. “They are never even talked about.” Daley has said that he'd like to see a Wal-Mart open up in Chatham, but he wants to make sure there is agreement in the city council first.

“Why is that it’s not enacted in the suburban areas?” Daley said of a living wage. “Why are we changing everything in the city, and nothing for the suburban and collar counties. That’s the thing I don’t understand. . . . Why is that there’s no living wage in the suburban areas," he asked rhetorically. And while Daley might have been trying to frame the issue in a way that makes it seem the city is bogged down with pesky things like public debate and a democratic process, he actually made one of the points that many opponents of an unchecked Wal-Mart do: that having a large employer in the marketplace that insists on paying below-market wages has a depressing effect on the overall economy of the region. Why don't the suburbs have a living wage, or some overall wage and hour protections in the retail market? And what effect does that have on working families in Chicago? These are questions that the mayor should be asking as well.