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Mayoral veto of Chicago benefits mandate stands


CHICAGO--Legislation mandating that big retailers in Chicago provide a minimum level of wages and benefits was killed Wednesday after the city council failed to override Mayor Richard M. Daley's veto of the bill.

The veto override failed on a 31-18 vote. Supporters needed 34 votes--a two-thirds majority of the 50-member city council--to override the mayoral veto.

The vote came two days after Mayor Daley vetoed the bill, saying that the measure would drive jobs and businesses from the city and penalize neighborhoods most in need of additional economic activity.

The measure, approved by the city council in July, would have required retailers with at least $1 billion in annual sales and with at least 90,000 square feet in a single location to pay their employees at least $10 an hour and provide another $3 an hour in benefits by July 1, 2010. The measure would have been phased in over three years, starting July 1, 2007.

Shortly before the city council approved the bill, a federal judge in Maryland overturned a somewhat similar state law, saying it violated the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which pre-empts state and local laws and rules that relate to employee benefit plans. Legal experts questioned whether the Chicago legislation also might run afoul of ERISA pre-emption.