Late last year the Cook County Board took a symbolic vote on the minimum wage. A county ordinance passed in October called for increasing the minimum wage from its current grossly insufficient level of $8.25 an hour, effective July 1.
We say the action was symbolic because the ordinance gives every municipality in the county the authority to opt out. And so, they are opting out. The latest to follow the leader was Oak Lawn, whose village board voted the other day not to participate in the increase. The president of the village’s Chamber of Commerce said his organization is in favor of raising the minimum, but asked the village board to opt out because small businesses won’t be able to compete with their counterparts in other towns if they have to pay workers more than $8.25.
The county ordinance would require businesses to pay their employees $10 beginning July 1, and to increase their pay by $1 an hour each July until 2020. The law would also require employers to allow the workers to earn up to five sick days a year. Afterward, annual pay increases tied to the rate of inflation would be required. Chicago has a similar ordinance that requires the same annual increases but will reach $13 an hour in 2019.
Oak Lawn village and Chamber of Commerce officials say any increase in the minimum wage should be enacted statewide, not at the county level. That will protect businesses from unfair competition, they say. But if a statewide increase is ever considered, you can be sure the governor and lots of lawmakers will argue that raising the minimum in Illinois will negatively impact any business…
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