Mayor Richard M. Daley last Thursday appeared to soften his resistance to an amended version of the “big box” ordinance, a proposal which would set a minimum wage for employees at Wal-Mart and other large retailers.
Though Daley does not support the initiative, recent comments indicate that he may not be taking such a hard line.
“Now, I’m not a big box proponent,” he said of the ordinance. “But like everything else, what we basically have to have is…them pay better salaries, better benefits. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Daley cautioned, however, that he did not want to send the message that big businesses should stay out of Chicago. He also expressed concern that other “big box” companies, like Marshall Fields, might have to shift to part-time employees.
Under an amended version of the ordinance, approved by the City Council Finance Committee on last Wednesday, the “living wage” will be phased in over three years to lessen the shock to big businesses. The new plan sets wages at $9.25 an hour, plus $1.50 for benefits to start, before they go up to $10 an hour and $3 in benefits by 2010.
“There’s a compromise going on, I think they’re trying to work something out,” Daley told reporters last week. “I haven’t seen the details but I think they’ve been working on it.”
His comments last Thursday?”after the amendments?”were gentler than those from the previous week, when he called out a list of 20 suburbs where Wal-Mart stores have been built.
“The big companies can say, OK, we are going to the suburbs,” he said.
Daley said Wednesday that he has not considered a veto of the proposal.
“That didn’t even come close in my mind,” he said.
The vote on the ordinance has been pushed back to at least the next City Council meeting this month.