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No Games Chicago Update
59 Days To Decision
Daily News

August 3, 2009
The People Speak

I've read the proposals, been to some ward meetings and as a lifelong resident of Chicago and suburbs I have little trust, faith and/or confidence in what the mayor or alderman say. I have even less than that in Olympic Committee.

Mr. Larry Rivkin

Signer of No Games
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Open letter to the IOC:
"Why you don't want to give the Olympics to Chicago"

Dear Member of the International Olympic Committee:  

Chicago is a very pro-labor city. Wal-Mart would like to expand in Chicago and many labor unions and their allies in the City Council oppose this. Despite heavy lobbying from Wal-Mart the matter was recently heard and tabled at a City Council meeting.

Why is this relevant to the Olympic bid? Because showing you that there is no labor unrest here is part of Chicago's attempt to win the 2016 games.

But you should know that this issue is a very important one to local unions - who DO NOT want Wal-Mart to build more stores here. You will see MAJOR labor unrest in Chicago over this issue.

Chicago aldermen sidestep Wal-Mart decision Plan to allow a 2nd store in city sent to committee

By Dan Mihalopoulos
- Chicago Tribune
July 30, 2009

Jobs or else!

Caught in a high-pressure standoff between the world's biggest retailer and powerful labor unions, the Chicago City Council blinked Wednesday and postponed a decision on whether to allow Wal-Mart to build only its second store in the city.

The delay amounted to another defeat for Wal-Mart and its supporters, who have waged a months-long public relations campaign aimed at winning enough council support to get a South Side store built this year.

Instead, aldermen voted to send the proposal to the council's Finance Committee for a hearing. Ald. Howard Brookins, who has argued for years for a store at 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue in his 21st Ward, said the parliamentary maneuvering meant construction could not begin this year.

Wal-Mart officials and labor leaders who oppose the non-union company's efforts to expand in the city both claimed they would have won if the issue had come up for a vote Wednesday.

But many aldermen have been reluctant to take a stand, in part because Mayor Richard Daley, who has repeatedly voiced support for Wal-Mart's plans, has declined to settle the issue on his own.

The mayor, who has angered labor leaders recently by forcing city workers to accept contract concessions, has criticized the unions for their Wal-Mart stance but declined to exert his near-total control over City Hall. The Wal-Mart plan could go forward with approval from the mayor's top planning official, but Daley has declined to allow it.

Chicago Federation of Labor leader Dennis Gannon said he met with Daley aide John Dunn on Tuesday and was assured that "the mayor does not want to get involved" as Wal-Mart and the unions vie to sway aldermen.

The latest flare-up over Wal-Mart comes as Daley nears the Oct. 2 meeting when the International Olympic Committee will make a decision on whether Chicago hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics. The city is one of four finalists for the Games.

Many aldermen are even more hesitant than Daley to do more than offer their opinions on the Wal-Mart controversy. In the last council election in 2007, unions heavily -- and often successfully -- funded challengers to aldermen who did not side with them against Wal-Mart.

On Wednesday, hundreds of Wal-Mart supporters flocked to City Hall on buses paid for by the company. Helping organize the demonstration was Rev. Leon Finney, a top Daley ally in the African-American community. Finney also rallied support last year for the Chicago Children's Museum plan for Grant Park, which the mayor backed.

"Mayor Daley has made clear that Wal-Mart is a good corporate citizen," said company spokesman John Bisio. "People need jobs and the city needs tax revenue."

In 2004, when the controversy first surfaced, the Chicago City Council approved the first Wal-Mart store in the city on the West Side. At the same time, aldermen blocked the company's proposal for the South Side site.

Tribune reporters Dan P. Blake and Sandra M. Jones contributed to this report.