Workers May Love It, But Others Warn It Could Be a Job Killer.
While they said it's a step in the right direction, there were some on Tuesday looking at a panel's recommendation to raise Chicago's minimum wage by more than $4 an hour with a bit of disappointment.
"It's OK, but I need more. I'm a single mom so I need to pay the rent, bills. So I need more. But it's OK for now," said Adriana Sanchez, a single-mother who says she's worked in the fast food industry for about six years.
An organization calling itself the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago has rallied and campaigned for a $15 per hour minimum wage.
The Minimum Wage Working Group, commissioned by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in May, issued a report Monday recommending the city's minimum wage be raised from the current $8.25 an hour to $13 an hour within the next four years.
Emanuel was quick to support the recommendation, which panelists said would affect 410,000 employees and inject an additional $800 million into the city's economy over the next four years.
"We haven't raised the minimum wage in years and it's fallen behind the cost of living that has been rising," he said at Mujeres Latinas en Accion on West 21st Place. "Nobody who works should raise a child in poverty."
The panel also recommended that the minimum wage for tipped workers also increase by $1, to $5.95, over two years. That was welcome news to bartender Mike Kostov, who called the minimum wage "ridiculous."
Still, he said he'd like more.
"$5.95 is not enough. It's not. Absolutely not," he said.
LeAnne Stark, a waitress of 15 years, said she could see both sides of the proverbial coin. She argued that under the current system, the minimum wage essentially just goes to cover her tax burden. It's the tips she earns that pays her bills and allows her to survive.
But "tips are not stable. It's not a stable industry. You never really know what you're going to make," she said.
However, Stark said the current system isn't ideal and said she'd like to see employers pay more and have the reliance on tips diminished.
"If I weren't in the industry it would be like, 'Why should I have to pay your wages when your employers don't want to pay it when everywhere else in the world it's an hourly job?'"
The Minimum Wage Working Group recommended the Chicago City Council hold off on any action to increase the city's minimum wage until after the November election. Legislative attempts to raise the minimum wage have failed but the Illinois General Assembly is set to again take up the issue after the election.
Voters will see a non-binding question on their ballots asking if they believe the state's minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour.