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September 12, 2006
Chicago Mayor Vetoes 'Retail Living Wage' Ordinance

Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley on Monday vetoed a living wage ordinance approved by the City Council in July.

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The ordinance would apply to retailers with annual sales of more than $1 billion that operate stores in the city of more with over 90,000 square feet of floor space. It would require big-box retailers to pay a minimum hourly wage of $10.00, plus $3.00 for benefits, by July 2010 to employees who work over 10 hours a week. The current minimum wage in Illinois is $6.50 an hour.

"I understand and share a desire to ensure that everyone who works in the city of Chicago earns a decent wage," Daley wrote. "But I do not believe that this ordinance, well intentioned as it may be, would achieve that end. Rather, I believe it would drive jobs and businesses from our city, penalizing neighborhoods that need additional economic activity the most."

Daley may face a battle in a City Council meeting September 13, as the Council may seek to override his veto, according to several sources.

Observers say that Daley's veto--his first in 17 years in office--may have been influenced in part by Wal-Mart and other large retailers, who warned that they would not open stores in Chicago if the ordinance was passed. Wal-Mart, for example, does not yet have any stores in Chicago , but had plans to open some soon--plans which will apparently go forward if Daley's veto holds up.

"[Daley's] action encourages desperately needed business investment and development in the city, with job opportunities and savings for those who need it most," a Wal-Mart official said in a press release Monday.

Sources: Los Angeles Times and New York Times

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