Who’s afraid of the big bad box store?

After months of politicking in Chicago’s City Council (Da Mare decided to let the plebes decide for a change), Wal-Mart finally got a zoning allowance to build a store on the city’s West Side. Its bid for a store on the South Side was rejected by the Windy City’s feudal lords.

Earlier this month, Wal-Mart seemed to back off the South Side project entirely, thanks to renewed efforts in the City Council to make the store pay a $10 minimum wage and provide health benefits — legal requirements no other grocery store must meet. The rules are meant to protect the local union shop grocery stores’ negotiating position and, purportedly, the workers who lucky enough to be hired by Wal-Mart.

The only problem is that Wal-Mart — for some absurd, obviously capitalist piggish and evil reason — doesn’t like to do business in places where it has to abide by a special set of rules that don’t apply to its competitors. With the ordinances looming, Wal-Mart may even beg off the West Side project.

So much for the hundreds of jobs the stores would bring to these less developed parts of the city. So much for the cheap, convenient shopping that would be available to area residents. Don’t worry, though. The project in the South Suburbs is still a go, according to the Northwest Times of Indiana. South and West siders will just have to keep driving out to the suburbs and pay extra for record-high gas prices. Who cares about them? They’re just consumers, after all.

But of course no one on the South Side would even dream of working at a Wal-Mart without City Council-approved “living wages.” Perhaps Shawala Turner would.

In a Tribune story on the people who would be affected by proposed cuts in night-owl el service, John Bebow tells her story:

It’s close to 4 a.m. now, and showing up is Shawala Turner’s only concern. The 28-year-old rises at 1:45, gets ready for work, and catches a bus to the 63rd Street station. The Red Line takes her to Washington Street, where she transfers to the Blue Line for the long ride out to O’Hare. She’s due there at 4:30. In eight hours, she’ll make about $56, before taxes, for pouring coffee at Starbucks.

“I don’t like coffee,” she says. “I really don’t.”

The proposed Wal-Mart store whose zoning variance was not approved by the noble protectionists in City Council would have been at 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue — three el stops away from Shawala on the red line.