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.
Read the Full Article (PDF)
On October 25th, 2016, CPEG Member Joe Persky testified before the Cook County (Illinois) board about the potential effects of raising the county minimum wage. Subsequent to testimony provided by CPEG and many other groups, the county board voted to raise the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 per hour on July 1, 2017. It will then rise by $1 per year until reaching $13 an hour in 2020! This is a major victory for low-wage workers in Chicago and all of Cook County.
As noted by Dr. Persky in his testimony, “Empirical evidence gathered throughout the country as well as here in Illinois supports the proposition that raising minimum wages increases incomes of low wage workers and their households without reducing employment. Cook County owes its low wage workers a serious increase in their minimum wages.”
Download Dr. Persky’s Expanded Testimony (.pdf) before the board.
Following a June 7th presentation to the Illinois legislature by CPEG members Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay, which occured during a hearing on proposed bills to create a “LaSalle Street Tax”, CPEG has issued additional clarifying comments. The comments are in response to a number of issues raised during the hearing.
CPEG LaSalle Street Tax Additional Comments (PDF)
On June 7th, CPEG members Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay testified before the Illinois House of Representatives on House Bill 106, Introduced by Rep. Mary Flowers of Chicago, which would create a “LaSalle Street”, or Financial Transactions Tax in the state.
Baiman testified that a LaSalle Street Tax would be fair, feasible, and beneficial, adding billions in revenue to the ailing state budget. Barclay testified that talking points from opponents of such a tax are not grounded in real experiences. Download the powerpoint presentations that accompanied their testimony:
Ron Baiman’s Testimony (.pptx)
Bill Barclay’s Testimony (.pptx)
In an October 1st address to the UIC chapter of the State Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA), CPEG’s Bill Barclay explained the potential benefits of a small LaSalle Street Tax (also known as a Financial Transactions Tax), on Chicago’s two large trading markets. Barclay suggested that some of the estimated $10-12 Billion in revenues that could be generated by the tax could be used to make up for the decades-long failure of the Illinois legislature to keep their pension funding promises.
The SUAA, with over 1,600 members, exists to promote the individual and collective interests and welfare of its members and of all UIC retirees. You can download Barclay’s presentation here (powerpoint), or view the full presentation on Youtube.