Illinois Workers March in Support of $15 Minimum Wage

Rallies throughout the United States, including in Chicago, marked the Labor Day holiday Monday as workers marched in support of a $15-per-hour minimum wage.

Workers from a variety of professions, including child care providers, hospital workers, and fast food employees, marched through the streets of Chicago in support of that message on Monday afternoon.

“We are standing together because we are sisters and brothers, and we want to make changes so we can make a living just like everyone else,” SEIU member Chanel Noble said. “I’ve been working for 20 years for low wages, and it’s just not making the cut.”

Noble was one of many participants in the rally that cited dissatisfaction with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, who vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in the state to $15 per hour by the year 2022.

“Governor Rauner vetoed the bill, and we’re gonna veto him,” fast food employee Laura Williams said. “I’m living paycheck to paycheck, just trying to make a living and to pay my bills.”

Rauner defended his decision to veto the bill in a signing statement, saying that he is willing to look for solutions to grow the economy, but that raising the minimum wage would have unintended, and negative, side effects.

 “This legislation would cost significant sums of money for the very people it purports to help,” Rauner said in a statement. “Illinois needs to be seeking comprehensive solutions that grow the economy and the number of jobs available where individuals can train, grow, and attain better lives for themselves and their families.”

The workers marching Monday were not only protesting in support of an increased minimum wage, but also in support of unionizing.

“I believe that what we do today is profoundly influenced by, and inspired by, the fights of our brothers and sisters, like the Pullman porters, the Haymarket martyrs, and many others who have gone before us.”  Deborah Pope of the Labor History Society said. 

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