In a striking decision that is certain to reverberate throughout the country, the city of Chicago ordered "big box" stores to raise the wages of their employees by the year 2010. As the NY Times reports this morning, "The ordinance, imposing the requirement on stores that occupy more than 90,000 square feet and are part of companies grossing more than $1 billion annually, would be the first in the country to single out large retailers for wage rules."
The response from the Walmonster: "It means that Chicago is closed for business." Yet it seems that the onerous requirements are not barriers for Costco, a box store that currently offers wages and benefits that exceed those of Chicago's statute.
What is undoubtedly true, however, is that the Chicago decision will be replicated in cities all over the United States. The argument will revolve around the claim of large retailers that these measures will stifle growth and the counter opinion that in cities where similar measures have been passed large retailers have continued to come in to take over new sites.
Of course the fact that the legislation was pioneered in Chicago has an added significance since it was in that city that Wal-Mart was able to mount the most significant booty capitalist effort on the city's West Side. The company was able to marshall African-American support by hiring a Black women to be the store's developer.
The gauntlet has definitely been set for NYC. This should give the meeting that Wal-Mart foes have set for next Tuesday night an extra degree of attention. We anticipate that excitement will be building and the anti Wal-Mart fever will be at a high level.