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Minimum wage bill advances, but fate is uncertain

Friday, Mar 21, 2014

* On Tuesday, about five percent of Chicago’s precincts held a non-binding referendum on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. From the Nation

With 100 of the 103 precincts where the issue was on the ballot reporting, 87 percent of voters were backing the $15-an-hour wage. Just 13 percent voted against the advisory referendum.

* Two days later

A bill gradually raising the state’s minimum wage to $10.65 an hour cleared a Senate committee Thursday.

However, the bill’s sponsor was unsure when she would call the bill for a vote in the full Senate.

“I am trying to move this measure to the floor. However, I’ve identified some areas that I believe we should have further discussion” on, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said after the hearing.

That includes discussions about the teen subminimum wage and tip-wage provisions. Both allow employers to pay affected employees less than the minimum wage.

* There was opposition

Business groups oppose the plan. The Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association says the legislation would “hinder local retailers and their employees.”

The group says raising the minimum wage would force employers to cut jobs, especially affecting those between the ages of 16 and 24.

* And

Opponents say the increase could negatively affect workers by forcing businesses to cut jobs, especially for those between the ages of 16 and 24.

“While there are some winners in this, there are unquestionably some losers, too,” said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Republican from Palatine.

* The outcome is far from certain

Cullerton said passage in the full Senate is “still probably a few votes short, but we’re working on it.”

* Gov. Quinn got into the act

Gov. Pat Quinn is making his push to increase Illinois’ minimum wage by shopping at a Gap clothing store in downtown Chicago.

The chain has instituted a policy of paying entry-level employees a higher minimum wage.

Quinn bought three sweaters for his young nieces on Thursday. The total was about $77 and he paid cash. Quinn called the store an example and added that he got quality clothes at a good price.

* The numbers

Currently, some 400,000 people hold minimum wage jobs in Illinois. A full-time minimum wage worker makes a little more than $17,000 a year before taxes.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


18 Comments
  1. - ronmexico - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 12:12 pm:

    This doesn’t make a ton of sense for the democrats to pass. Why take away a huge, if not only campaign issue that you have going for you against Rauner? If you pass it, are you just going to run around the state saying Rauner opposed it? Voters will lose interest. Leave it out there as a campaign issue, make the Baron defend his stance on an issue that is highly popular with all voters. Union money is going to be with Quinn anyways because they can’t afford to let Rauner win. And oh yeah, your marginals in the House and Senate don’t have to piss off local business owners in a year that could shape up to be pretty bad.


  2. - circularfiringsquad - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    So Mitt Rauner and the whack jobs oppose the “millionaires’ amendment” and prefer to keep the corporate welfare payments for food, health and housing coming.
    Talk about a shakedown


  3. - shore - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    “On Tuesday, about five percent of Chicago’s precincts held a non-binding referendum on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. From the Nation…”

    what percentage of those people actually own/employ/run the businesses where the costs of that boost would be born?

    Show me numbers like this from a dupage county chamber of commerce event and I might take it seriously.


  4. - Living in Machiaville - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    Not sure where that 400,000 number came from. According to the 2012 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Illinois there are a little over 3 million hourly workers. Of that, 85,000 are at or below minumum wage (unless I read it wrong). It further says “Minimum wage workers tend to be young…..Among employed teenagers paid by the hour, about 21 percent earned the minimum wage or less, compared with about 3 percent of workers age 25 and over.” http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2012.pdf


  5. - Living in Machiaville - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    The minimum wage issue is a political one. As is the millionare tax. One or both will be used to drive voters to the polls to off set term limit voters. Classic Dem move and understandable given the panic in the air.


  6. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    Glad to see all of those rich guys opposing giving the actual workers more money.

    I think the discussions on a “student” wage are appropriate. I think that’s probably a fair compromise.


  7. - Actually Cares - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    The minimum wage issue isn’t simply political. Groups in Illinois have been trying to raise it for years. It has more legs now that it’s an election season because a higher minimum wage always polls well. I hope they pass it now instead of trying to make it a political leverage point since it would actually help a lot of people. 400,000 probably refers to the number of low-wage workers, not necessarily minimum wage workers. It’s very realistic that at least that many people would be affected by a minimum wage increase.


  8. - Actually Cares - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    I don’t like the teenage worker distinction because it arbitrarily decides that their labor is not as valuable as an older persons. They are also probably the most likely of any demographic to spend their whole paycheck rather than save it.


  9. - Hit or Miss - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    “Quinn called the store an example and added that he got quality clothes at a good price.”

    One of the reason that Quinn can buy clothing ‘at a good price’ is that about 97% of all clothing sold today is imported from overseas. In 1960’s about 95% of all clothing sold in the US was made in the US. Clothing makers in Bangladesh, the source of some of the clothing sold by GAP, pay, on average, only slightly more than $100 per month (not per day or per week).

    In Myanmar, where I purchased some clothing last month, average wages for clothing workers are even lower.

    A higher minimum wage will probably work fine for many in service industries like those who work at a McDonalds or at venture capital firms. The big question is will cause even more manufactures to outsource or move offshore. Will the move of the Schwinn Bicycle Co. from Chicago to China be repeated by others?


  10. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    I can’t believe Republicans are going to let themselves get beat up from now til November on minimum wage and a millionaires tax.

    Why would they do that? They’re both good things.

    You’re going to fall on your sword on those issues? It’s crazy.

    Bruce will probably wise up and flip. He’s shown that he can change course with the wind.


  11. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    ==That includes discussions about the teen subminimum wage and tip-wage provisions. Both allow employers to pay affected employees less than the minimum wage.==

    I say no to allowing employers to pay less than minimum wage for tipped employees. Current law says that such employees are supposed to have the difference between tips and minimum wage made up by the employer if tips don’t equal or surpass the minimum wage already, but that rarely happens.

    “Of the tipped workers in our sample, 30 percent were not paid the tipped worker minimum wage

    http://www.nelp.org/page/-/brokenlaws/BrokenLawsReport2009.pdf?nocdn=1

    For this type of violation, “In 2009 only 30% of employers that had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act were in compliance by a later investigation.”

    http://www.epi.org/files/page/-/BriefingPaper297.pdf


  12. - PMcP - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 1:52 pm:

    I really wish they would push this at the federal level, instead, and tie it to inflation. State and local deviations in minimum wages create too much opportunity for corporate arbitrage. If Chicago passed a 15$ minimum wage I bet we’d see a lot of retail business development at the city border.

    Rubio (FL Senator) had a good idea about federal wage support, which could be promising. I’m just incredibly wary of unilaterally imposed economic floors, especially considering the current state of the State. I get the local desire for it but an even playing field for this (i.e. Federal wage floor) would definitely favor illinois against competition when it comes to overall business development.


  13. - fed up - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    Glad to see all of those rich guys opposing giving the actual workers more money.

    I think the discussions on a “student” wage are appropriate. I think that’s probably a fair compromise.

    hmmm Rich guys like Acorn: “ACORN’s involvement in this campaign is amusing because a few years ago the group sued the state of California in order to be exempted from its minimum wage requirement, which was higher than the federal government’s. In its appellate brief, ACORN acknowledged that the more it had to pay each worker, the fewer such workers it would be able to hire. Of course, the same thing is true for businesses, as well — something minimum wage advocates refuse to admit.”


  14. - Living in Machiaville - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    Actually Cares 1:26, Tossing around numbers in very public ways, such at the 400,000 in IL make the minimum wage is beyond careless, it’s grossly inaccurate. So I’d suggest the proponents of increasing the minimum wage get it right unless thay want to be held to ridicule. If they feel so strongly about it, try using the “truth to power” bit.


  15. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    @fed up:

    I think that stinks. But you really have to get past this “yeah, but” syndrome you have. Get a life dude.


  16. - plutocrat03 - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    Since or friends at ACORN recognize the fact that there will be fewer minimum wage jobs than before.

    Way to go!


  17. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 3:10 pm:

    –Since or friends at ACORN recognize the fact that there will be fewer minimum wage jobs than before.–

    I’m sure that means something to some one.

    You know ACORN has been out of business for four years?

    Aren’t the Philly New Black Panthers the boogie-man of choice?


  18. - Plutocrat03 - Friday, Mar 21, 14 @ 4:09 pm:

    Acorn out of business

    Just like a cheap roofing company, they are at work under different name…

    The point is that even the fringe recognizes that raising the minimum wage reduces the number of jobs available. The more you raise thminimim wage, the fewer positions there will be.

    We need to learn why some workers stagnate at those minimum wage jobs and figure out how to make them more valuable to future employers. Seems crazy to spend 10 years at a minimum wage position. When the employee finds a new better paid position and moves on, the entry level position becomes open again for a new person. That is the healthy business cycle.


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