CPEG’s Ron Baiman on Chicago suburbs and the impact of their decision to “opt out” of the Cook County minimum wage and sick leave ordinances.
Summary: After Chicago (in 2014) raised its minimum wage to $13 an hour (by 2019), activists in Cook County led by The People’s Lobby and Arise Chicago succeeded in getting Cook County to pass (in June 2016) a five day paid sick leave requirement and (in October 2016) a gradual minimum wage increase to $13 hour (by 2020), both effective July 1, 2017.
The “opt out” campaign first struck in November 2016, when Barrington, a wealthy and conservative town straddling the far north border of Cook County and Lake County, voted on Nov. 15, 2017 to opt out of the Cook county sick leave ordinance , and then in December to opt out of the “Chicago Style” Cook County minimum wage ordinance, on the technical grounds that part of the town is in Lake County. Then other wealthy towns in the northern suburbs (wholly within Cook County) voted to opt out, often claiming that as their neighbors had opted out they had no choice. Then the “opt out” movement spread to less wealthy communities throughout the County, often where many of the low wage workers who would have directly benefited from this live.
By actively subverting an increase in labor standards in Cook County, the most important and populous County in the state, local officials have acted to perpetuate and increase poverty and sickness for the lowest income and most vulnerable workers and families in the County. They should be ashamed of what they have done.
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