CHICAGO (PAI) — Just months after it tried to ram two “supercenters” through the Chicago City Council, giant anti-worker retailer Wal-Mart has apparently thrown in the towel. The reason, though it denies it: The city’s new living wage law.

Wal-Mart said on Aug. 31 that it would let its contract to build a “big box” supercenter in a poor area of the South Side expire, and that it would not renew it.

The council delayed that store due to concerns, raised by UFCW Local 881, Jobs with Justice and other worker groups, about Wal-Mart’s below-market wages, bad working conditions, job discrimination and lack of quality health care benefits.

They also cited Wal-Mart’s negative impact on communities, driving local retailers out of business and costing workers jobs.

UFCW is campaigning continent-wide to organize Wal-Mart’s 1 million workers, and recently made a breakthrough in Quebec.

The Chicago City Council approved a Wal-Mart supercenter in another poor area, on the West Side, but a Wal-Mart spokesman said it’s reconsidering that store, too. “It’s not about a living-wage issue. It’s about an ordinance that singles out some — not all — businesses in Chicago,” he claimed.

Independent analysts note rising and successful opposition to Wal-Mart in major metro areas, now that the retailer has maximized its traditional rural markets. Opposition has kept Wal-Mart supercenters out of southern Los Angeles, Montgomery County, Md., the entire state of Vermont and elsewhere.

In Chicago, the living wage ordinance may be the key. Ordinance co-sponsor Alderman Joseph Moore pointed out the law applies to all big box retailers of 75,000 square feet or more.

“It requires them to provide decent wages and benefits to their employees, while giving hiring preference to local residents,” Moore wrote to the Chicago Sun-Times.

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