Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wal-Mart threatens to leave Chicago if forced to pay living wage.

Ya gotta give it to Wal-Mart. I mean, really, who else does balls-out corporate brutality better? The deal is that Chicago recently passed a law (or by-law) compelling Wal-Mart to pay its workers a living wage. In response, Wal-Mart is threatening to move entirely into the suburbs. What's the wage they don't want to pay? And what's the wage they're going to pay in the suburbs?
Wal-Mart said that its average hourly wage is almost $11 an hour in the Chicago area and that the lowest wage that will be paid at the new West Side store will be $7.25 an hour.
No one can live in America on that wage. No one.

I note that the usual "it'll take away jobs" canard is being trotted out by the mayor:

Mayor Richard M. Daley and others warned the living wage proposal would drive jobs and desperately needed development from some of the city's poorest neighborhoods and lead giants like Wal-Mart to abandon the city.
The fact of the matter is, though, that "giants" like Wal-Mart don't offer jobs that help people out of poverty. They inculcate it by paying wages that cannot be used to invest in a home, that cannot be used to pay for a child's education -- or, indeed, most of a child's basic needs -- and that cannot be used to do anything other than eke out enough of an existence to get to work the next day. (And heaven help you if you get sick. Wal-Mart won't.)

If the mayors of Chicago's suburbs cared about improving the lot of their citizens, instead of lining their own pockets through political donations, they'd side with Chicago on this one. They won't, of course. But it's beyond obvious that they should.

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