A rollicking Thursday night meeting that often felt akin to a Sunday morning Baptist church service drew 1,000 people with a message for City Hall: Let the big-box retailers bring jobs into Chicago's cash-strapped neighborhoods.The pro-consumer choice people are up against powerful unions.What would union power be without the Chicago Mob?
"We need places where we can walk to so we can lift up our family and communities," said Cheyenne Cochrane, 20, a Bronzeville resident. "We need places to work that are close to home."
Cochrane, also a Howard University student, drew cheers at the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, 4100 S. King Drive, where many crowd members donned white shirts with black letters that read "Don't Box Us Out."
The crowd objected to a proposed wage ordinance for big-box stores that is expected to come up for a vote during Wednesday's City Council meeting. If enacted, the measure would require stores with at least 90,000 square feet and $1 billion in annual sales company-wide to pay workers a minimum of $9.25 an hour plus $1.50 an hour in benefits.
Most people at Thursday's gathering were critical of the bill, saying they need jobs now. Organizers said they fear the measure, if passed, will drive away employers like Target, Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
The meeting brought speakers, including aldermen and clergy members, but also Margaret Garner, top contractor for a Wal-Mart currently under construction on the West Side.
Garner said she believes she's the first African-American woman to build a Wal-Mart and expects the building, in the Austin neighborhood, to be completed in about two weeks.
Friday, July 21, 2006
The Chicago Tribune reports:
Posted by Steve Bartin at 8:14 AM