Ordinance Called Big Box Mistake
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association says Chicago would be making a big mistake if it mandates that big box retailers such as Wal-Mart meet wage and benefit requirements
to operate within the city’s limits.
The association, under counsel from the law firm of Mayer Brown Rowe & Mawe, contends that any such ordinance would violate Illinois and U.S. constitutional law and ultimately
would cost taxpayers money in a unsuccessful attempt to fend off legal challenges to the ordinance.
David Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “The ordinance is flawed in so many ways that approving it will
cause significant damage to the reputation of the city, its people and their joint economic future.
“We implore the members of the City Council to abandon this folly, and find effective ways to encourage economic development in the neighborhoods”, he added.
Chicago Alderman Bernard Stone agrees with Mr. Vite’s position.
“Do you really believe that an ordinance that attacks one group of retailers and completely exempts all others can withstand a court test? I know there are a sufficient number
of votes to carry the big-box ordinance. I also know that, if it is passed by the City Council, it will be challenged in the courts, and the people we intend to help will not
be helped,” he said. “Use your vote with discretion.”
Supporters of the proposed ordinance are determined to see it enacted.
Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon said, “It’s the 9th inning with two outs. We’ve got this ordinance we’ve worked on for 18 months. We’d be happy to talk to
Ald. Stone after we pass the big-box ordinance — not before.”
Discussion Question: Will Chicago and other local/state governments be making a mistake if they pass laws mandating wage and benefit standards for big box
retailers? How would the enactment of such a law affect the big box retailers, their employees, other smaller box retailers and consumers?