HITTING LEFT #20

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rahm tries to outflank unions and political opponents on minimum wage

Members of the Progressive Caucus, including Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd), Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Scott Waguespack (32nd), proposed raising Chicago's minimum wage to $15 an hour. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times
The Little Emperor is caught between a rock and a hard place on the minimum wage. Unions and community groups want the MW raised to $15.  Rahm's corporate patrons want something far less are even threatening a pull-out if that passes. So with a wink to hedge-fund pals, like Ken Griffin (Citadel), who just dropped big money into his campaign war chest, and buddy Bruce Rauner, who wants to cut the MW down to $7.25, the mayor got his so-called Working Group, led by flunkie Ald. Will Burns, to come up with $13/hour (in four years) plan as a way to outflank likely opponents like Karen Lewis and Bob Fioretti and still keep his creds with loyal union leadersThe Working Group which includes the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Chicago Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Restaurant Association, wants to put off a vote to raise the current $8.25 an hour minimum wage until after the Nov. 4 election.

The Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, the union of fast food and retail workers, responded in a press release yesterday:
 Any recommendation that is less than $15 is an insult to the hundreds of fast food workers that have risked their jobs and made sacrifices for the well-being of this city. Chicago fast food workers will not sit back and wait for politicians to act, we will continue to bring our fight to the $200 billion a year fast food industry until we win.
In the Chicago metro area there are 80,930 frontline fast food workers. An adult with one child needs to make $20.86 an hour working full time in the Chicago area just to afford the basics, according to a model developed by a professor at MIT.
The WOOC is part of a coalition that includes: Action Now; Albany Park Neighborhood Council; Arise Chicago; Brighton Park Neighborhood Council; Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; Chicago Jobs with Justice; Chicago Teachers Union; Grassroots Collaborative; Illinois Hunger Coalition; Jane Addams Senior Caucus; ONE Northside; Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP); SEIU Local 1; SEIU Local 73; SEIU Healthcare Illinois;  Indiana, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation;  United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Western Region; and Workers United.

Supporters on the City Council include Progressive Caucus members: Fioretti (2nd); Roderick Sawyer (6th); Toni Foulkes (15th); Ricardo Munoz (22nd);  Scott Waguespack (32nd); Nick Sposato (36th) and John Arena (45th) along with Walter Burnett (27th), Jason Ervin (28th), and “Proco” Joe Moreno (1st). 

Moreno points to a study by the Center for Popular Democracy that showed that a $15-an-hour wage paid by large Chicago companies alone would impact 510,000 working Chicagoans, spur $616 million in economic activity, generate $45 million in new sales tax revenue and create 5,350 new jobs.

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