Bullshit Philosophy

Half-assed political and religious commentary from a cynical left-winger

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Chicago-Style Big-Box Law Good For Illinois

Posted by Kevin on December 20, 2008

[originally posted 9/19/06]

The fact that I wrote this has nothing to do with why I’m posting it, I swear 😛

Yeah, I know, I’ve said that before, and I’ll say it again when my National Guard release goes out in a day or two.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 18, 2006

WHITNEY: CHICAGO-STYLE BIG-BOX LAW GOOD FOR ILLINOIS

Contact:
Jennifer Rose, Campaign Manager
Whitney for Governor, whitneyforgov.org
campaignmanager@whitneyforgov.org
618-528-VOTE

Tim Tacker, Communications Director
Whitney for Governor, whitneyforgov.org
communicationsdirector@whitneyforgov.org
815-735-6139

Green gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney, lamenting the failure of the Chicago City Council to overcome Mayor Richard Daley’s veto of an ordinance requiring “big-box” retailers like Wal-Mart and Target to pay a living wage, will work to pass and implement a similar law for the entire state of Illinois if elected.

“While I don’t buy the complaint that the ordinance would drive big retailers out into the suburbs, the solution would be to expand the law statewide,” Whitney said, pointing out that retailers would have to comply with the law in order to access the Illinois market.

The vetoed Chicago ordinance would have required stores larger than 90,000 square feet to pay workers $10 an hour with $3 an hour in benefits by 2010.

“A full-time job should provide enough income to support a family,” Whitney said, but even on this state’s minimum wage, increased over the federal minimum, it is still possible for people who work hard every day of their lives to fall under the poverty line. Requiring big-box retailers to pay living wages has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of workers at a time when the buying power of the minimum wage is at an all-time low.

In response to claims that requiring big-box retailers to pay decent wages will increase joblessness and decrease economic growth because such companies will invest less in Illinois as a result, Whitney disputed the notion that more Wal-Marts are the solution to our economic woes.

“All that more Wal-Marts and Targets means is more dead end, low paying and low benefit jobs,” Whitney said. “Should we really be patting ourselves on the back for that? Instead, I think we should pass laws supporting small, locally-owned business that properly reward the contributions of their workers by giving them a more level playing field on which to compete with corporate giants.”

Besides just driving down wages and benefits, big-box retailers also hurt workers another way. Studies show that far from creating jobs, they actually cause a net loss of jobs in the communities they enter due to driving other local businesses and the fact that they typically employ fewer people to obtain the same amount of sales. For instance, the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Urban Economic Development estimated in a 2004 study of the impact of a proposed Wal-Mart store on Chicago’s west side that its opening would cause a net loss of 65 jobs.

Therefore, Whitney said, it makes sense to require that big-box retailers pay decent wages to compensate for the loss in jobs and economic activity. This would also be a boon to local economies, he said, because “the greater purchasing power in the hands of working people is largely expended directly on goods and services in the community. In contrast, wealth extracted from poorly paid workers, accumulated in the hands of a few wealthy corporate owners, is largely taken out of the community.”

A living wage law for big-box retailers would also benefit taxpayers by decreasing government expenses on social programs. Because companies like Wal-Mart refuse to give the workers their fair share, we pay more in the form of increased reliance on Medicaid and welfare programs, costing the state over $2 billion a year according to another UIC study. “This is money that could be going to improve our schools or fund research into clean energy,” Whitney said. “Instead, it is being used to indirectly subsidize giant corporations that post massive profits and could easily bear the costs.”

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