Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Create living wage jobs not Walmart poverty wage jobs

Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins is at it again. He's leading the charge to get the City Council to allow a 2nd Walmart store in the city - this time a super-center.

You'll remember the last big fight with Walmart resulted in the Big Box Living Wage Ordinance, requiring the big box retailers like Walmart to pay a living wage, not a poverty wage, if they wanted to do business in the city. Mayor Daley vetoed the measure which angered organized labor and its allies. Daley ended up taking a licking in the 2007 municipal elections when many of the alderman who supported the veto were defeated by labor candidates.

Brookins invokes the need for jobs in his argument for Walmart. We totally agree - we do need jobs, badly. All across the city and especially in the African American and Latino communities and especially among youth.

Brookins says a low paying job is better than no job. Well, that's where we part company. The problem is the Walmart poverty paying jobs are the cutting edge forcing all wages down, down, down for all and forcing the public to fund social services for Walmart workers that a living wage could pay for (ie food stamps, etc).

Instead of pushing for poverty wage jobs, we urge Alderman Brookins to join the fight for a federally funded massive public works jobs program (like the WPA during the Great Depression) to rebuild Chicago with affordable housing, mass transit, new parks and recreation centers, new schools, cleaning up the pollution sites, and put our musicians and artists to work creating public art, etc.

As we all know, there is plenty to do in this city to hire tens of thousands of unemployed workers and keep them employed for years to come.

It's clear the first jobs creating stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is not going to create near enough jobs to put a dent in the unemployment rate. And with most economists projecting an "L" shaped economic crisis and a "jobless" recovery, the government is going to have to be the main creator of new jobs by the millions.

A good place to start is a piece authored by the Chicago Political Economy Group entitled "A Permanent Jobs Program for the US: Economic Restructuring to Meet Human Needs" found at:

Alderman Brookins - forget Walmart and poverty wages and demand public works and living wages!

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