Published on: February 9, 2009The Chicago Tribune reports that Walmart is hoping that the recessionary environment may make Chicago officials more amenable to the notion of the company expanding aggressively there.
According to the story, “. John Bisio, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said Friday that the company is assessing the political and financial viability of expanding in the city. Bisio declined to say how many stores or which locations were being considered but that conversations with aldermen have focused on ‘food deserts,’ neighborhoods lacking grocery stores. "
The Chicago Sun-Times gets a little more specific: “Wal-Mart is scouting 12 properties in Chicago's ‘food desert’ neighborhoods for new stores that sell groceries, a Wal-Mart spokesman said Friday. About 500,000 Chicagoans live in food deserts with no easy access to mainstream grocery stores.”
There is only one Walmart supercenter within the city limits, as organized labor has succeeded to creating a hostile environment for the retailer there. In September 2006, Mayor Richard Daley vetoed a so-called big-box ordinance that would have mandated by the end of the decade a $10 minimum wage and $3 per hour in minimum health care benefits for employees of stores larger than 90,000 square feet and with total company sales of more than $1 billion – an ordinance clearly targeted at Walmart.
Both papers report that organized labor is gearing up for another battle to keep Walmart out of Chicago.
- KC's View:
- There is an irony to all this, of course. Walmart hopes to expand because of its “low price message,” which appeals to people with less money than ever to spend – either because they are budgeting more carefully or because they have lost their jobs completely. Organized labor says that it wants to provide better for its members, but it persists in fighting expansion that would make lower prices more accessible to more people. (Granted, it argues that Walmart is doing more damage than good by “exploiting” workers.)
Seems to me that the stalemate doesn’t help anyone … and in fact hurts people. Which is a shame.