Wal-Mart’s plans to build a second store in Chicago remain bottled up in the Chicago City Council. The store that Wal-Mart would like to build on the South Side at 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue, is going nowhere because the aldermen live in fear of organized labor and organized labor despises Wal-Mart.
We know organized labor wants to keep Wal-Mart from expanding in Chicago. But what do the aldermen’s constituents want? The answer is clear: They want the opportunity to work or shop at Wal-Mart. A new Tribune/WGN poll found that 68% of city residents would like to see a new Wal-Mart store in Chicago, and 72% say Wal-Mart would be good for the community. The support is even higher with African-Americans, who stand to gain the most economic benefit from the proposed South Side store. The poll found 72% of African-Americans want Wal-Mart in the city and 81% say it would be good for the community.
The Tribune poll, conducted in late August, mirrors polls taken this summer for Wal-Mart and for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce that showed strong public support for the retailer. But the aldermen aren’t listening to their constituents. The unions provide money and troops at election time. Apparently the aldermen have decided that keeping the labor bosses happy is more critical than following the wishes of their citizens.
Two hundred construction jobs — union jobs, by the way — and up to 500 retail jobs. But City Council leaders won’t even allow a vote on an ordinance that would clear the way for Wal-Mart to build and open on the South Side. They’re in step with the union bosses, but they’re out of step with the people.