By a vote of 35 to 14, the Chicago city council yesterday approved a new ordinance requiring large retailers in the city to phase in a living wage for their employees of $10 per hour plus $3 per hour in benefits-- the highest minimum wage established for any industry sector in the country. If signed by the mayor, the law would raise pay for tens of thousands of workers in retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, Lowe's and Home Depot. A broad coalition of organizations including ACORN, labor unions and church groups worked together for its passage.Municipalities, provinces and states are beginning to catch on to the externalization game whereby companies offload the costs of their employees basic survival needs onto local governments, public health systems, foodbanks and social services. Catch on and finally start calling such companies on their ways.
Of course the predictable suspects have shrieked like branded calves at this requirement to pay their employees enough to survive. They claim it will destroy their profit margin and keep them from building any more stores in Chicago. Of course after Santa Fe created a living wage of $9.50 per hour for large employers, Wal-Mart asked for approval to build a new Supercenter.
It isn't over yet, Mayor Daley who opposes the ordinance could still veto it. However the vote was a fairly veto-proof margin in favor and it would be his first veto in 17 years and it would be on behalf of Walmart. The optics would suck.