Press Releases
June 24, 2010
Contact: Nick Kaleba (312) 222-1000 / (773) 458-0958 cell


Unions secure additional concessions to allow Pullman Walmart to move forward

A coalition of labor leaders, community leaders and Chicago aldermen announced they have received additional concessions from Walmart that would allow the proposed Pullman Park development to clear the City Council Zoning Committee and vote.

Chicago, IL —

A coalition of labor leaders, community leaders and Chicago aldermen today announced they have received additional concessions from Walmart that would allow the proposed Pullman Park development to clear the City Council Zoning Committee and vote on the full council floor without opposition.

Negotiations yesterday secured an additional $.40 to $.60 per hour to all employees after the first year of employment as well as funding for job training and other economic programs to benefit struggling areas in the city. 

“After years of demanding more from the world’s most profitable retailer, we have reached a point where we have received more guarantees over wages, community benefits and construction than any other place in the world,” said Dennis Gannon, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor.  “The time is right to bring retail and construction jobs to the people of Chicago.  We will be vigilant about holding Walmart accountable for the promises it has made to us and to the community.”

The deal will only apply to the proposed Pullman Park site and not the other 30 proposed Walmart locations.  Each subsequent proposal will be met with similar scrutiny on a case-by-case basis. 

Today’s announcement follows historic negotiations between labor and community leaders and Walmart.  The labor and community coalition demanded a three-legged stool of benefits and other agreements that included an urban retail wage $1higher than the minimum wage, a community benefits agreement to invest in Chicago and local communities, and a Project Labor Agreement for construction.

On Monday, Walmart officials ceded to pressure from labor and community leaders to pay a higher starting wage.  The wage announced Monday of $.50 above minimum wage, which will become $8.25 in July, was promptly rejected by those leaders as too low, considering what the corporation is capable of paying and its long, tarnished record of mistreating employees and communities and demanded better.  With the new agreement, employees will now earn between $9.15 and $9.35 per hour after the first year.

“We are committed to ensuring that Walmart will not deny its workers in Chicago their rights,” said Ron Powell, President of Local 811 of the United Food and Commercial Workers.  “Around the world, this corporation has routinely mistreated its employees and violated labor laws. We won’t let that happen here in Chicago”

The coalition also directed Walmart to allocate a significant portion of the $20 million community investment into job training and economic programs in the Pullman community.

The Chicago Federation of Labor in its negotiations demanded Wal-Mart agree to a historic Project Labor Agreement (PLA), not just in Chicago, but in twenty counties across northern Illinois.  The PLA was turned over to and negotiated by Tom Villanova, President of the Chicago Building Trades Council.  The agreement includes language to increase employment opportunities for minority workers and to provide minority apprenticeship opportunities. 

“This is a victory for the community,” said Jorge Ramirez, Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor.  “We stood together and were able to do something no one thought was possible.  Because we demanded more from the world’s largest retailer, future Wal-Mart workers in Chicago will earn better wages in Chicago than anywhere else in the country.”

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