Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chicago big box wage dispute highlights union fibbing

Last year in Chicago a union-backed proposal to impose a minimum wage only on big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target was vetoed by Mayor Richard Daley.

The Chicago City Council was unable to muster up the votes to override his veto.

It's election time again in Chicago--next month the first round of municipal elections take place.

Organized labor hasn't forgotten about "big-box." And I haven't forgotten about some comments made by a top Chicago union official made last summer.

Originally from the Chicago Sun-Times and reposted here. The quotes come from Ald. Bernard Stone:

"The unions have backed aldermen against the wall. They've threatened to fund opponents against them and to solicit opponents to run against" those who dare to oppose the big-box ordinance, Stone said

"I'm not stupid. I know certain aldermen have been threatened. That's the type of campaign the unions have run. I think it's despicable what's been done. They figure they've got us by the short hairs."

Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon, who has led the charge for the big-box ordinance, emphatically denied strong-arming aldermen.

"I can categorically tell you that the Chicago Federation of Labor has not made any threats to any alderman at any time," Gannon said.

From today's Chicago "free registration required" Tribune:

"We've got a fight on our hands on every issue that we bring over to City Hall these days," said Gannon, who leads the Chicago Federation of Labor.

As the Feb. 27 elections for City Council approach, Gannon and other labor leaders are working to elect new aldermen who will be friendlier to labor and more independent of the mayor. With the unions certain that Daley is headed toward an easy win, the battles over council seats could be the biggest races in town.

The tipping point for many labor organizations was Daley's veto last year of a proposal to raise wages for employees of "big box" retail stores such as Wal-Mart.

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