Wal-Mart Bashers Beware - Regular Folks Don't Agree

Dear Everyone;

For those of your acquaintanances who like to bash Wal-Mart read this story about the new Chicago store opening. The store had 400 jobs and 15,000 applicants. Not to far back the new San Antonio store with 400 job openings had 9,000 applicants. Obviously the people applying and shopping at the stores don't know they are not supposed to apply to work at Wal-Mart or shop their stores.

Too bad the dunderheads that pass for "progressive" supervisors don't want large big box retailers - starting at 11 stores or larger - coming to San Francisco as they don't want those jobs for people - so the people will be beholden to the supervisors for hand outs of tax money against being self-supporting job holders who can tell the supervisors to buzz off - they are not needed.

Ler free-market entreprenuerial capitalism rain - preferably on the supervisors and their dolt headed anti-business anti-jobs and pro-tax policies.

Ron Getty
SF Libertarian

Ending years-long dispute, Wal-Mart opens first store in Chicago


CHICAGO - Wanda Mendez waited over an hour in the early morning drizzle Wednesday to get inside Chicago's first Wal-Mart store during its grand opening. The mega-retailer, meanwhile, struggled for years to open a store within the city limits as officials debated issues of wages, zoning and jobs.

Mendez was among hundreds of shoppers checking out the store's 142,000-square-foot location on the city's West Side, and she said she was eager for bargains close to home and happy for the new jobs in the economically depressed area.

"It's good for the neighborhood," said Mendez, who bought cat litter and flea spray for her 11-year-old daughter's new kitten.

Whether she's right has been the central question in a battle between supporters who say the store brings much-needed jobs to the city and opponents who counter that its discount buying power undercuts local businesses and its wages are too low and its benefits skimpy.

In January, that battle made headlines when the mega-retailer, which first started looking at the Chicago market five years ago, opened a store literally across the street from the city limits. It was just a few miles from a proposed site on the city's South Side that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. abandoned when aldermen in the summer of 2004 refused to make a necessary zoning change.

Then in July, the City Council approved an ordinance that would have required stores like Wal-Mart to pay employees at least $10 hourly _ plus $3 in fringe benefits _ by mid-2010. The rules would have applied only to companies with more than $1 billion in yearly sales and stores of at least 90,000 square feet.

Large retailers warned the ordinance would discourage businesses from opening in the city _ some even put projects on hold _ and when Mayor Richard Daley vetoed the so-called "big-box ordinance" this month, aldermen were unable to override his veto.

Self-professed "shopaholic" Julie Edwards _ who was in line two hours before the store opened _ agreed with many Wal-Mart supporters who said a job that pays minimum wage is better than no job at all.

"I want to see them make $10 an hour, but if they can't, at least they can make something," Edwards said. "They're creating jobs for our community."

More than 15,000 people applied for the nearly 400 jobs at the store, said Ed Smith, the store's manager, adding that 98 percent of the employees live in the neighborhood. He said the lowest paid employees make $7.25 an hour, something only two workers earn.

The number of applicants was a "reflection for the want of jobs in Chicago" said Michael Lewis, the president of Wal-Mart's Midwest division.

But supporters of the ordinance that ultimately failed in Chicago said that wealthy retailers like Wal-Mart need to pay employees a living wage that includes benefits.

"We want people to have low prices, we want them to shop wherever they want," said Chris Kofinis, a spokesman for union-backed WakeUpWalMart.com. "The question is why can't Wal-Mart simply be more responsible? They could pay a living wage, provide affordable health care and still be incredibly profitable."

Noting Wal-Mart's annual advertising budget, Kofinis said he wasn't surprised at the turnout for the store's opening day and said "everyone has to make their own decision" on whether to shop there.

At the new store, a 7 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony was a cross between a church revival _ with the crowd of employees and Wal-Mart business executives shouting "Amen!" _ and a pep rally, with cheering and a performance by a high school marching band.

"I'm going to celebrate," said Alderman Emma Mitts, referring to employment opportunities in the neighborhood. "I thank the mayor for vetoing the ordinance."

Store managers boasted of the store's local appeal with cosmetics and hair care supplies, CDs, music videos and food aimed toward black and Hispanic consumers.

Inside the Wal-Mart, Jesse Gillespie, 72, ate at a local branch of the Uncle Remus chicken restaurant with two friends. Gillespie said he was concerned about making sure Wal-Mart paid workers adequately but thinks the store will improve his neighborhood.

"You put some of the people to work," he said. "You get kids off the street."

By 9 a.m., the parking lot was overflowing and groups of young women streamed from a nearby bus stop to head straight for the store.

Store employees expected about 5,000 to 6,000 people by the day's end, slightly above average for a Wal-Mart store's opening day.

On the Net:

Wal-Mart: http://www.walmart.com

WakeUp Wal-Mart: http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/