(Chicago, Illinois – September 11, 2006) This morning, Mayor Richard M. Daley vetoed Chicago’s “big box” ordinance, which would have required retailers with 90,000 square feet of space and more than $1 billion in revenue to pay a “living wage” in excess of the state’s current minimum wage. The Chicago Tribune quoted Daley saying he believed the ordinance “would drive jobs and businesses from our city, penalizing neighborhoods that need additional economic activity the most.”
The comments below from experts affiliated with The Heartland Institute may be quoted or reprinted in full. If you are interested in obtaining further comment or arranging an interview, please call me at 312/377-4000 or 708/289-3136 (cell), or contact me by email at [email protected].
Joseph L. Bast
President, The Heartland Institute
“By vetoing this ordinance, the mayor is standing up for consumers and thousands of people seeking their first jobs or a second chance at living productive lives. This was a courageous act, as politicians and liberal advocacy groups have clearly shown a willingness to attack those who speak out for the public interest and the truly needy.
“The anti-big box law adopted by the City Council would have eventually been overturned by the courts, but only after considerable legal expense and many appeals. The damage to Chicago’s and Illinois’ reputations as being pro-consumer and pro-growth would have been measurable in lost jobs and income.
“The ordinance had nothing to do with helping the poor or minorities, since it sawed off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder that millions of people climb each year on their way to better-paying jobs. It had everything to do with the growing political clout of groups created specifically to advance organized labor’s agenda.
“Mayor Daley told the Chicago Sun-Times that aldermen were afraid someone would run against them in the next election if they didn’t vote yes on the bill. That’s a sad commentary on how aldermen make decisions, but it’s undoubtedly true. Unions and several well-funded left-wing advocacy groups successfully intimidated local elected officials into adopting their extreme agenda.”
President, The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change
“If Mayor Daley hadn’t vetoed this ordinance, it’s likely the law would end up in court where it would probably be rejected, as a similar law in Maryland was recently.
“Advocates of the ordinance in the City Council, both black and white, claim it will help the poor black Americans, but support for this did not begin in the black community, nor would its effect be to benefit blacks. This is a scheme started as a labor union initiative being introduced in cities around the country, with backing by ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), a highly partisan advocacy group based in Washington, DC. ACORN also runs voter registration drives where Democrats benefit, claiming it’s a nonpartisan organization. Its aggressive tactics recently prompted the House of Representatives to take action.
“This scheme’s purpose is to increase labor union membership and dues collection and put union leaders in a stronger position in dealing with the management of Wal-Mart and other nonunion companies. When two groups collaborate–in this case unions and the black community–where the stakes are not equal, one usually reaps all the benefits while the other foots the bill. In this case underdeveloped black communities lose jobs and better, more affordable services.
“Businesses pay lower wages to people whose lack of skills and experience mean they don’t add a lot of value to the goods and services the businesses sell. Many such people are young, attended and may have dropped out of low-quality public schools, or are ex-offenders trying to get back into the workforce. A disproportionate number of these people, regrettably, are black.
“So when a city government steps in and makes it illegal for some businesses to pay less than $10.00 an hour and an additional $3.00 an hour in benefits, it effectively makes it illegal for those businesses to hire many black applicants.
“Thanks to Mayor Daley’s courageous veto, crucial entry-level jobs that would enable young blacks and ex-offenders to start climbing the career ladder to better-paying and more fulfilling jobs will not be closed to them.”