Chicago minimum wage hearing Monday

Labor activists Ginger Jentzen, center, and Jeremy Thornes listen during a Seattle City Council meeting in which the council voted on raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Seattle on June 2. (DAVID RYDER / REUTERS / June 3, 2014)

On June 2, Seattle's city council raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Exactly one week later, Mayor Emanuel's working group on the minimum wage will have its first public hearing to discuss a wage increase in Chicago.

Monday night's hearing is the first of several to be announced. Here's what to know before you go.


Emanuel has tasked a group of aldermen, business representatives and labor leaders with making an official recommendation on the city minimum wage by early next month.

"It's a very tight time frame to get anything specific," working group member Tanya Triche said. Triche is vice president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which opposes raising the minimum wage, saying it will hurt the local economy.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), who also sits on the working group, said his goal is to have debate before implementing any action.

"Of course I want the minimum wage to go up, but I don't think it's responsible to say `I want this number or that number' without having heard from [other participants]," he said. "Moving something unilaterally, I think you end up having the conversation on the back end."

Anything the group recommends will be non-binding.

"It's just advisory to the mayor and the city council," Triche said. "What happens from there is yet to be seen."


Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said Emanuel organized the working group in response to an ordinance he is co-sponsoring to gradually raise Chicago's minimum wage to $15.

"We've introduced it, it goes to committee, we're going to see how soon the committee is willing to host a hearing on it," he said, adding that he hoped the proposal could be presented to the council at about the same time as the working group's recommendation.

"Historically in the city council, any ordinance the mayor doesn't want gets stuck in committee," said Amisha Patel, executive director of activist group Grassroots Collaborative. "[Our goal is] getting this to a vote as soon as possible."

And if the $15 ordinance does not pass?

"I don't know how to answer that yet," Patel said. "I think we're going to push on $15 for as hard as we can, because that's the right number."




The current minimum wage in Illinois, $1 higher than the nationwide minimum wage.


Illinois voters could be asked whether they support raising the state minimum wage to $10 when they vote in November, thanks to a bill passed by both houses of the General Assembly last month that Gov. Quinn has said he will sign. Republicans accuse the non-binding referendum of being a ploy to get Democratic voters to the polls.


Under one proposed city ordinance, Chicago's minimum wage gradually would be raised to $15 an hour, and increased according to the cost of living after that. "It's difficult for working individuals to support their families," Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) told RedEye. "As we have heard over and over again, some of them are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. We believe a $15 wage will correct that."

Minimum wage working group public hearing

7-9 p.m. Monday, Kennedy-King College, 6301 S. Halsted St.

For more information and to submit a comment to the working group, go to