business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Chicago Tribune reports that Wal-Mart's "hard-fought battle to turn Chicago into a beachhead for urban expansion across the country has come to a quiet end, at least for the foreseeable future, as big-city politics held sway over low prices.

As the Tribune writes, "The retailer, which has a non-union workforce, ran into opposition from unions that have been trying to stop the Bentonville, Ark.-based company's expansion into northern cities. Both Wal-Mart and the unions say they help everyday working families. Wal-Mart points to its affordable merchandise, willingness to blaze a trail into the food deserts of inner cities, and the hundreds of workers each store employs." And the unions say that Wal-Mart pays too little and provides too few benefits, which victimizes working class people."

In the end, the unions had more power in Chicago than Wal-Mart, and "now the world's largest retailer is turning its attention to a backup plan of opening stores just outside city limits, banking that thousands of low-to-middle-income city dwellers will travel to collar suburbs to shop at the discount store."

KC's View:
Next time a Chicago city official or union member decides to complain about a lack of food stores in the city's neighborhoods, I have a suggestion for them.

Shut up.

I'm not defending Wal-Mart here. But I am suggesting that it seems at last possible that Wal-Mart may have been willing to go into neighborhoods underserved by the food business…and that perhaps politics became more important than people's welfare.

Not that this would be anything new.