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IL: Chicago Mayor Vetoes Retail Living Wage Ordinance

In his first veto over 17 years as mayor, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has vetoed the ordinance passed by the city council which would have required large retail stores of at least 90,000 square feet to pay $10 an hour, plus $3 in benefits, by July 2010.

This is the issue where Daley has decided to divide the city, despite polls showing 71% of Chicagoans support the ordinance. But Daley is sticking with his corporate supporters and blocking a decent wage for retail workers in the city.

Daley hides behind the fig leaf of threats by retail stores to avoid development in the City, yet ignores the experience of cities like Santa Fe and San Francisco that have raised local minimum wages-- and yet the businesses keep coming in. Leaders from both those cities came to Chicago recently to testify that higher living wages have been good for those cities' economies. In fact, in Santa Fe, which raised its minimum wage for all businesses with 25 or more employees, Wal-Mart announced plans to open a new Super Center store in that city.

Big box retailers want access to urban consumers-- and the only question is whether political leaders will stand up for their employees or stand in the way. Unfortunately, Daley has chosen to stand in the way of a decent life for low wage service workers in his city.

A move to override the veto failed yesterday.

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