The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago:
A higher minimum wage at “big box” stores?

Jun 12, 2006

For several months the Chicago City Council has been debating a minimum wage of $10 an hour plus $3 in benefits for any store with more than 75,000 square feet, called “big box” stores. This would include a new WalMart store, Target and an additional 33 big stores, employing some 9,000 workers who now get much lower wages. Of course, the owners of retail stores object, threatening that if the bill passed they would close these stores in Chicago and move to the suburbs. Maybe so – that’s why the $10 should apply to all stores in the state – in fact all stores across the country.

Those pushing limited extensions of the minimum wage are tied to the Democratic Party. In Illinois, the governor is a Democrat and the party controls both houses of the state legislature. Why don’t they enact $10 an hour and $3 in benefits in the whole state of Illinois right now? That would prevent WalMart and Target from whipsawing cities, setting them against each other.

Today the Democrats are trying to take back the U.S. House and Senate in the November election. You would think they would fight to increase the minimum wage for all workers in the country to $10, knowing it would increase their election hopes. But still they don’t do it. That shows just how tied they are to the ruling class. They don’t want to touch corporate profits.

$10 an hour and $3 in benefits isn’t much – but it would be a step forward for “big box” workers in Chicago, and even better for the many millions of low wage workers around the country. But don’t wait on the Democratic Party and its friends to bring it about. Start pushing!