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Photos: Police Carry Protesters Out Of West Loop Walmart

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 8, 2016 9:40PM

Nearly a dozen people were arrested at a Walmart in the West Loop Wednesday for blocking the checkout lanes, to demonstrate for fair wages.

Hundreds of demonstrators descended on the corporate giant's store demanding it pay its employees fair wages, and that the Cook County Board passes the Responsible Business Act, which would penalize companies like Walmart who do not.

“Big corporations like Walmart inflate their profits by paying poverty wages. But when Walmart forces workers to rely on the social safety net to survive, they are intentionally sticking taxpayers with the tab,” said Pascal Brixel, Chair of IIRON’s Good Jobs Task Force, which organized the demonstration.

Proposed last October, the Responsible Business Act would require corporations with more than 750 employees to pay $750 per one dollar less of the “Cook County Living Wage” of $14.57 an hour, or $11.65 for employees with benefits. Proponents say it could bring in as much as $248 million a year. They also say, companies like Walmart - who have been raking in record profits - can afford it.

“We’re done asking Walmart nicely to do right by workers and taxpayers,” Michael Collins, a member of the group IIRON, said. “Last year, Walmart’s profits exceeded $16 billion dollars. It’s clear Walmart can afford to pay workers in its 25 Cook County stores a living wage or to cover the cost of the social safety net their workers need in order to survive.”

Currently, the act has the support of six commissioners. Organizers with the groups at the action say they need three more. “We’re also asking Cook County Commissioners, ‘Which side are you on?’,” said Wayne Hayer a fast food worker and member of the group ONE Northside, which also took part in the protest. “Will you stand up for workers and taxpayers? Or will you help allow Wal-Mart and other multi-billion dollar corporations pad their profits by pushing the real cost of doing business onto the people of Cook County?”