"The struggle to raise pay for low-income workers, once fought in agricultural fields and on factory floors, is moving to the aisles of big retailers in Chicago where large national chains like Wal-Mart and Target may be forced to offer higher wages along with every-day low prices.
While retailers complain the legislation may lead them to stall plans for new downtown stores, Wharton faculty say Chicago's proposed living wage law is largely symbolic and would have little real impact on large retail chains or their employees. "The bottom line is it's feel-good legislation that won't have an effect on firm location or firm costs -- or on low-income families in Chicago, either," says Wharton finance professor Robert Inman.
Under a proposal passed by Chicago's City Council in July, retail chains with sales of more than $1 billion or stores larger than 90,000 square feet will be required to pay workers $10 an hour in wages and $3 in benefits by 2010. Illinois' current minimum wage is $6.50 an hour, while the federal minimum wage -- last increased in September 1997 -- remains at $5.15 an hour." Source: Knowledge@Wharton
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