Chicago Wal-Mart Update
Chicago Sun-Times editorial:
The time for a South Side Wal-Mart has come. Unemployment in the Chicago region hovers above 11 percent, with higher rates among blacks. Even Mayor Daley, who hasn't pushed hard for Wal-Mart for fear of alienating the unions, is publicly going to bat for the superstore. It's now up to Ald. Edward M. Burke to make it happen.
An ordinance to allow for a long-awaited Chatham Wal-Mart Supercenter, which sells groceries, has languished for months in the City Council Finance Committee, which Burke chairs. This is just the latest delay in a five-year battle by Ald. Howard Brookins to get a Wal-Mart at a former industrial site at 83rd and Stewart.
Burke, an unabashed union supporter, has said Wal-Mart is welcome in Chicago, so long as it hammers out a "living wage" compromise with union leaders.
In a perfect world, we'd like a living wage agreement, too. Too bad that's not the world we live in. We live in a world where South Siders need fresh groceries, where South Siders need the amenities available at Wal-Mart, where South Siders need jobs.
And the jobs don't exactly pay the slave wages Wal-Mart opponents suggest. At Chicago's only Wal-Mart, in Austin, the average hourly wage, excluding managers, is $11.30.That Wal-Mart created 400 permanent jobs and, since opening three years ago, $16.3 million in sales tax revenue.
Who is Ald. Burke to say no to Chicagoans who want these jobs? The Chatham Wal-Mart proposal deserves a vote in City Council, and Burke now holds the key. His committee should move quickly to hold hearings on the proposed Wal-Mart and then move forward with a vote.
Each day that passes is one extra day without jobs and groceries for deserving South Siders. The time for a South Side Wal-Mart has not only come -- it's also way past due.