A city task force’s recent recommendation to raise the minimum wage satisfied neither activists who wanted a higher number nor business interests who wanted no raise at all.
Mayor Emanuel’s minimum wage working group this week announced a finalized proposal to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 over four years.
“This is the right standard for the city of Chicago, the right value,” Emanuel said at a news conference Tuesday.
Emanuel noted that the working group was divided on the issue.
“There was disagreement. We had that last night in the dinner table at my home. That comes in life,” he said. “I didn’t expect uniformity.”
If parties on both sides are unhappy, does that make the $13 proposal a good compromise?
“Generally I think that rule of thumb holds true,” said Tanya Triche, vice president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and a member of the working group. “In this case, it’s not about being unhappy, it’s about raising costs to business owners and then trying to figure out how they are going to meet the increase in their costs.”
Ald. John Arena (45th), a sponsor of a City Council ordinance that would raise the minimum wage to $15, called the working group’s recommendation “half a loaf.”
“What I’d like to know is ... why 13?” he said. “What’s the justification for 13? I know the justification for 15. It’s based on solid economic math. Is 13 arbitrary? Is 13 just not 15 and that’s the reason for it? What are we trying to achieve here?”
Amisha Patel, executive director of Grassroots Collaborative, said her group would continue to push the city for a $15 minimum wage.
“We’re definitely going to be in the streets moving forward an aggressive voter engagement program to really make sure that aldermen hear from their constituents that their job is not done yet,” she said. “Their job is not done with 13 an hour.”
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