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Emanuel's Minimum Wage Proposal Ready For City Council Vote

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 2, 2014 4:10PM

A scene from a Fight for $15 protest in May. (Photo credit: Aaroncynic/Chicagoist)

Barring a last-minute revolt or a Hail Mary from Springfield, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ordinance to raise the minimum wage in Chicago to $13 an hour by 2018 will sail through City Council this morning. While the move will be a boost to Emanuel’s re-election chances, there are still critics of the ordinance while supporters of a higher minimum wage say it doesn’t go far enough.

City Council progressives such as Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Roderick Sawyer (6th) indicated they would join the mayor’s supporters on the Council in passing the ordinance after the Workforce Development Committee approved it Monday. The ordinance (which we’ve embedded below) would hike the minimum wage in Chicago from the current $8.25/hour to $10/hour next year and $11/hour within three years, before reaching $13/hour by 2018. But activists who have fought for a $15/hour minimum wage said it’s a good start but agree with mayoral candidate and 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti they would prefer stronger action.

Emanuel’s power play ignores concerns from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and Illinois Restaurant Association that moving to a $13/hour minimum wage within four years would be detrimental to economic growth. The move isn’t without its detractors on City Council, either, with Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) comparing it to something former Mayor Richard M. Daley would do and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) expressing concern for local businesses still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Mayoral spokesman Michael Negron countered the ordinance would have an $860 million impact on the local economy and bring 70,000 Chicagoans—including 5,000 single mothers—out of poverty.

Emanuel’s ordinance will pass as downstate lawmakers convene for the Illinois Legislature’s veto session. They’ve been working on a minimum wage increase to $10 or $11 an hour with the caveat that Chicago’s minimum wage hike must be in line with the state increase, but it’s uncertain if House Speaker Michael Madigan can persuade enough Republicans and pro-business Democrats to vote for the bill.

Minimum Wage Ordinance Draft