Monday, March 23, 2009

Food deserts will bring Daley back into Wal-Mart battle with unions

Laura Washington:
It's called kicking the can down the road. In 2006, Mayor Richard M. Daley took a political hit that still reverberates today. The Service Employee International Union rammed a "big box" ordinance down the throats of the City Council. Its goal: To keep Wal-Mart mega stores out of underserved neighborhoods.

The ordinance would have required wage and work rules for businesses with more than $1 billion in annual sales in stores of 90,000 square feet or more. The Council passed it. Daley vetoed it, arguing it would hurt economically depressed neighborhoods.

The SEIU, which has long crucified Wal-Mart as anti-labor, targeted aldermen who didn't back the measure and neatly knee-capped them, knocking off six incumbents in the February 2007 aldermanic primary.
The economy is strangling the economic life out of the neighborhoods -- particularly the South Side, proposed site of the Daley-Olympics. Hundreds of new jobs in Chicago's depressed neighborhoods? That should be golden to our mayor.

Especially in Chicago's food deserts -- vast swaths of the city's South and West Side that are bereft of full-service grocery stores but chock-full of greasy chicken shacks and overpriced "convenience" marts. About 500,000 Chicagoans live in food deserts, according to Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group, which studies the food desert calamity.

Not long ago, Wal-Mart was scouting prime food desert locations and pitching to build new stores with grocery offerings. Last fall, the Daley administration pushed six sites in dire need of a grocery store. Some Daley allies, like 21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins, hunger to revive the Wal-Mart push.
Daley and his City Council should be feeling the heat from denizens of the food deserts, where decent food options, jobs and economic development dried up decades ago. Communities like Chatham, Washington Park and Roseland, where some folks trek for miles to get affordable, fresh food. I am not talking about hifalutin' fare like arugula, our president's favorite. How about some cucumbers, broccoli, an orange or two?

Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are ravishing African-American communities. Jobs are vital, but so is our health.

The SEIU boasts 100,000 members in Chicago; 70 percent are African American, Morrison says. There are 5,000 union members in Brookins' ward alone.

Those neighborhoods are fertile ground for some innovative union organizing. Perhaps opening more Wal-Marts there is the Trojan Horse that opens the door to unionizing the company.
Via CapFax morning shorts!

No comments:

Post a Comment

PLEASE READ FIRST!!!! Comment Moderating and Anonymous Comment Policy

While anonymous comments are not prohibited we do encourage you to help readers identify you so that other commenters may respond to you. Either read the moderating policy for how or leave an identifier (which could be a nickname for example) at the end of the comment.

Also note that this blog is NOT associated with any public or political officials including Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer!