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CHICAGO -- After 2 hours of vigorous debate, the Chicago City Council Mayor upheld Richard Daley's veto of the city's controversial big-box ordinance yesterday in a tally that fell three votes short of an override.
The ordinance would have required large retailers to pay workers at least $13 an hour in wages and benefits by 2010. Daley vetoed the bill Monday, saying the ordinance would keep large stores such as Wal-Mart out of Chicago.
His veto brushed back an ordinance that the City Council had passed on July 26, which would have required stores with 90,000 square feet or more of interior space, and operated by companies with $1 billion in sales, to pay at least $10 per hour by 2010; and to provide at least $3 per hour in benefits. The Council vote yesterday was 31-18 in favor of the override, falling short of the 34 votes it needed.
The National Retail Federation welcomed the news that Daley's veto survived.
"We're hoping that Mayor Daley's veto is another nail in the coffin of this movement of municipalities trying to mandate coverage," said NRF president and c.e.o. Tracy Mullin. "Health care mandates are the political flavor of the moment, but the only thing they accomplish is to increase costs for consumers or force stores out of town. This veto is a triumph of reason over politics."
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association worked exhaustively on this issue and deserves all the credit for this outcome, Mullin said. "Now that the dust has settled, this shows that IRMA's arguments really came through and were appreciated by the city government."
Yesterday's action was the second time in two weeks that a local health mandate attempt has been rejected. A state judge in New Jersey on August 30 struck down a ballot initiative proposed in Lawrence Township, N.J., but similar ordinances are pending in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.