Big Box Bill Becomes Law
The Chicago City Council voted 35 – 14 yesterday to pass a measure that requires big box retailers like Target and Wal-Mart to pay employees a minimum wage higher than that required by federal law. According to the ordinance, retailers making $1 billion or more in annual sales with stores covering at least 90,000 square feet must pay employees $9.25 an hour plus $1.50 an hour in fringe benefits as of July 2007. By 2010, the respective numbers go up to $10 and $3, increasing annually after that based on cost-of-living increases.
Though Mayor Richard Daley opposes the law, 34 votes can override any veto he chooses to apply.
Minimum wage laws affecting almost all retailers exist already in cities such as San Francisco, Santa Fe and Washington, D.C. Chicago’s is the first to target retailers of a particular physical and financial size, though other cities may follow suit. Last week, a Maryland court decreed that laws regulating a small number of businesses were not unconstitutionally discriminatory.
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