Chicago requires big-box stores to pay 'living wage'

Opponents worry measure could drive retailers out of the city
||Last Updated: 09/13/2006

Chicago became the biggest city in the nation to require big-box retailers to pay a "living wage" this week, a move that could push big retailers out of the city.

Opponents, including the city's Mayor Richard M. Daley, warned the measure would drive jobs and development from some of the city's poorest neighbourhoods and lead giants like Wal-Mart to abandon the city.

City council passed the ordinance 35-14 after three hours of debate. The measure requires retailers with more than $1 billion in annual sales and stores of at least 90,000 square feet to pay workers at least $10 an hour in wages plus $3 an hour in fringe benefits by mid-2010. The current minimum wage in Illinois is $6.50 an hour and the federal minimum is $5.15.