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    Jobs or Else!

    I asked about their ominous signs an received this answer:

    They want a Walmart built on the South Side of Chicago at 83rd and Stewart. It's a confounding social dilemma- how did we get to the point where people take to the street demanding minimum-wage jobs from a union-busting corporation with a history of abysmal human relations?

    Is this a legit grassroots effort or are these protesters political pawns? Daley just accepted $700,000 from the Walmart corporation...

    ...Yet there seems to be community support.

    Update: Here's an interview with hip-hop artist Rhymefest who's in the first video I posted.

    Peter & Carolyn and Steven Vance added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Dubi Kaufmann 58 months ago | reply

      AstroTurf or not, that area is a food desert.

    2. allthewhile 57 months ago | reply

      There's nothing confounding about black people wanting to be employed, and being angry about not being able to gain employment because people want to ban certain companies in certain areas. I'm completely befuddled by a city that allows pawn shops, liquor stores, check cashing places, porn shops, strip clubs in poor areas: BUT WON'T ALLOW WAL-MART. Yes Wal Mart busts Unions, but guess what: You can't form a union if there's no job there in the first place.

      What's really confounding are the Aldermans and people like YOU who seem completely confused about how economics works. I'm absolutely sick and tired of the so called educated upper middle class hipster snobs who would deny gainful employment to their fellow Americans because of their anti-corporation puritanism.

      Cheap products and employment opportunities will help poor communities.

    3. allthewhile 57 months ago | reply

      Oh and these jobs are not minimum wage:,_In...

      All of those jobs are above the Chicago and Federal minimum wage. I'm also guessing that employees would be paid more in Chicago than the national average for Wal-Mart employees.

    4. Ira and Andrea 57 months ago | reply


      Thanks for taking the time to respond.

      We are in agreement that people want jobs. It's obvious poor people will take whatever they can get.

      My original question was not about the quality of Wal-Mart (whose poor treatment of employees is commonly reported) but how the city has let this region reach a point of economic depression where people are begging to work for such a company.

      Economic, educational and nutritional vacuums don't just happen, and they aren't solved by plopping down a big box retail store.

      According to that graph, the majority of Wal-Mart employees(cashiers and sales associates) are paid a dollar over minimum wage, which is $8/hr in Chicago.

      Don't presume to know my socio-economic background or understanding of impoverished communities.

    5. allthewhile 57 months ago | reply

      Ira and Andrea,

      Thanks for the thoughtful response despite my very harsh tone. Sorry, it was late, and I was not in a particularly good mood. I don't take it for granted, like you do, that walmart institutionally treats its employees poorly. They offer GREAT opportunity for people entering the work force who have really no marketable skills, or for people who want to work in retirement and earn extra money. I don't and would never say that Wal Mart is "taking whatever they can get." 27,000 people applied for a job at Chicago's only other Wal Mart. Lets not patronize those people. We're not smarter than them. They understand that Wal Mart offers a good pay (over $11 an hour), and opportunities for advancement.

      Further, how do you think we STOP these nutriional vaccuums? Bringing in a whole foods? Lets get serious. Wal Mart is one of the only ways that this low income community is going to have access to affordable and fresh fruits and vegetables. So yes, plopping down a big box WILL solve the problem. The problem is one of access, so you give and allow access. Its not rocket science.

      The graph that I showed you was the national average. I can't find it somewhere but in my reading last night I saw that Wal Mart employees in Chicago will make over 11 dollars an hour to START! That's amazing. I would totally take that job if I only had a high school degree. How can you argue against that?

      You're right, I don't know your socio-economic background or your understanding of impoverished communities, however, I was alarmed that you WEREN'T alarmed that the city is blocking this.

      I'm a teacher, so am off for the summer. I think there might be a rally downtown tomorrow and am going to take my own kids to it. Thanks for the lead.

    6. Ira and Andrea 57 months ago | reply

      I can't argue there's anything wrong with bringing business to impoverished areas any more than bringing fresh food there. It's true the South Side needs both.

      Again, you think I am a fool in your suggestion of a Whole Foods. As though it were "Walmart or nothing". Rather than subsidizing a Walmart, why not provide grants to a dozen independent grocers willing to serve the area? I'm betting on a $700,000 answer.

      The truth is, Walmart has opposed legislation which would raise wages in Chicago.

      "In 2006, Wal-Mart fought hard against a living wage ordinance in Chicago. The ordinance, which would have raised the minimum wage to $9.25 an hour, plus $1.50 in benefits, with a further increase to $10 an hour in 2010, was passed by the city council by 35-14 vote. After Wal-Mart's lobbying efforts and a veto by Mayor Daley, the measure was overturned in September 2006." [Bloomberg, 9/13/06]

      Much has been written about Walmart's abuses of its workforce. I'm no expert, but a variety of websites such as and provide irrefutable evidence of the way Walmart operates.

      I hope we both realize this issue is not black and white- accepting Walmart on their own terms is sure to bring jobs, but certainly at the expense of workers. This is what I meant by "taking what they can get". Even the most intelligent people, in economic straits, will do whatever they can for themselves and their families, putting them at the mercy of mercenary businesses like Walmart.

      I don't question why the people of Chatham support a Walmart in their area but I am ALARMED this is the best Mayor Daley and the city of Chicago have to offer them.

    7. allthewhile 57 months ago | reply


      I don't think you're a fool, I just think the ideas you've espoused here are pretty foolish. There's no need to provide grants to businesses that may or may not be able to actually follow through with their promises, when Wal Mart obviously will. Not to mention the boon in tax revenue that will occur in sales tax/corporate tax/and taxes garnered from those 500 jobs. Another problem your solution doesn't take into account is that other stores (dominicks, etc) could build there, but don't.

      I oppose legislation that would raise wages for poor people, and I want poor people to have more wealth. Seems counter-intuitive doesn't it? Sometimes, the truth ends up being on the other side from where you think it would be. Walmart opposes this for obvious reasons: profits would go down. I oppose it because less poor people would have jobs. Raising the minimum wage lowers the amount of job opportunities for unskilled / lowskilled labor. There's only a limited amount of money in the market, and when you artificially inflate the value of a low skilled worker, you either higher fewer workers, or raise prices, which means people have less money somewhere else, and therefore, less jobs. Its pretty telling about walmart wages when there are 27,0000 applications for 500 jobs. They are obiouvsly paying WAY ABOVE market value. Regardless, they have no obligation to pay what you or I or even the city council thinks is fair. They only have an obligation to those 500 workers. They are the ones who determine, with their feet, and putting on that uniform, whether or not the pay scale is fair.

      Wal Mart in Chicago will pay $12 an hour on average to its employees (this is not including management). After six months, they start to hook you up with health care (of course you have to pay into it). They offer training, and the ability to move up. If you have little or no skills, this is a way to WORK YOUR WAY OUT OF POVERTY. Its an opportunity. Let's not forget what walmart offers the community. CHEAP goods. People in poor communities have less money to spend on food and home goods. I think they deserve the low prices that walmart offers them. I think they need to Choose for THEMSELVES what businesses they want in their community. They aren't even being allowed to do that. OTHERS are doing it for them. Other people are deciding this issue. People like you and me don't really have a stake in this, and yet, people like you and me seem to have the power to lord this over them.

      Much has been written about the positive effects of wal mart on society. and and my favorite The evidence here is irrefutable as well! (For further learning opportunites, check out Free to Choose by Milton Friedman)

      In the end, I just think you have it backwards. This isn't about poor black people being "offered something" by government. It is about the government getting out of the way and letting people do what they want. Its called freedom. Wal mart should be free, and poor blacks should be free. This isn't something that should be decided by some white master sitting in city council.

    8. allthewhile 57 months ago | reply

      Oh and thanks for the thoughtful discussion.

    9. Ira and Andrea 57 months ago | reply

      We're in fundamental disagreement about Walmart's character, which is fine because it makes for interesting dialogue. I look forward to seeing this play out in the media and local government.

      To a few of your points:

      1. Minimum wage reflects a standard of living. Corporations pay as little as they can get away with because of their bottom line. It's government's job to protect citizens by setting a livable minimum wage. When a corporation lobbies against raising that wage, it is in direct opposition to the interests of the people. Walmart has never publish a median wage, so it's unclear what their workers actually earn.

      2. In many cases, public health care is actually less expensive and offers more coverage than Walmarts coverage. In fact, Walmart has the most employees on federal aid out of any large corporation. In terms of advancement or "working your way out of poverty", Walmart has an estimated 70% turnover rate.

      3. Unfortunately, this debate comes down to who is more corrupt and self-serving: private corporations or elected officials?

      Poor people will inevitably get screwed by wealthy, powerful opportunists, leaving us to debate weather it will be the public or private sector.

    10. Steven Vance 46 months ago | reply

      Can I use this photo in a blog article about Wal-Mart?

    11. Ira and Andrea 46 months ago | reply

      Sure, just link back!

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