Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Time to give up fight, OK Chatham Wal-Mart

Sun-Times commentary on Wal-Mart in Chatham and Ald. Brookins:
Chicago -- specifically, the jobs- and grocery-starved South Side -- has always needed Wal-Mart. And now, with unemployment among African Americans approaching 14 percent, the South Side needs Wal-Mart like never before.

Chicago opened its first Wal-Mart, in Austin neighborhood on the West Side in 2006. In that store's first two years, it generated $10.3 million in new sales tax revenue and created more than 400 permanent jobs. The average hourly wage, excluding managers, is $11.30.

For five years, Wal-Mart has been contemplating a second, larger store, with a full grocery, at 83rd and Stewart in Chatham, but it has been thwarted at every turn.

The Chatham store would create up to 650 permanent jobs, plus 1,500 construction jobs. It would give South Siders who live in "food deserts" a close and convenient place to buy groceries, including fresh fruits and vegetables, at good prices.

Chatham Ald. Howard Brookins plans to introduce an ordinance, probably next month, to pave the way for the long-awaited Wal-Mart in his ward. We urge the City Council to back Brookins.

In 2004, the council first voted down the Chatham Wal-Mart. Then, in 2006, the council passed a big-box ordinance requiring large stores to pay at least $13 an hour in wages and benefits. It was vetoed by Mayor Daley, but the push stalled big-box development. Last year, Wal-Mart and Brookins tried once again, but the city planning department turned them down.

This time around, Brookins will ask the City Council to alter a redevelopment agreement for the 83rd and Stewart site to allow for a Wal-Mart.
Typical reasons Wal-Mart has faced opposition in Chicago is due to unions who don't want to see established unionized stores undercut by Wal-Mart's wages. Also Wal-Mart has faced opposition due to how they are said to pay little to their workers. Although Wal-Mart jobs are likely to be the first jobs of young people in high school or college. In addition to health care benefits which this commentary say have improved but is far from perfect. If you remember that's one of the things that was a part of the vetoed big box ordinance.

Via CapFax morning shorts!

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