Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Need a new minimum wage ordinance in Chicago

Some days the encampment under a bridge just south of downtown and just north of Chicago’s Chinatown has the feeling of a bedraggled backyard barbecue. Men from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala cook frozen shrimp or crab over a fire, drink beers, joke and even sing. On this Saturday in February, however, the men are silent, and the fear and misery in the air are palpable. It is just too cold. -- The Guardian
Now that the Fight-For-15 Movement has gained such broad support and with 14 cities and states passing $15/hr. minimum wage laws in 2015, isn't it time for new legislation here in Chicago?

We had broad support for it here until Mayor Rahm Emanuel undercut a move by the City Council's Progressive Caucus by countering with his own $13/hr. bill. But Chicago workers won't see even  $13/hr. for three more years under the mayor's plan. This year Chicago comes up 50 cents from Illinois' $8.25 rate, which is already $1 higher than the federal rate. After that, the wage will go up by 50 and 2017, and by $1 in 2018 and 2019.

Now that Rahm is on the ropes politically, it seems to me that this is the time for a new $15 bill to be introduced. He would have a tough time opposing it, especially in a national election year. Rahm is already facing a probable teachers strike in May. The CTU has already called for a $15/hr. floor for all CPS employees. A united front of unions, City Council members, and the Fight-For-15 Movement would be pretty hard to beat.

Families can't survive at the current $10/hr. rate. The result is too many workers are still finding themselves homeless. Too many students are coming to school hungry or having to drop out of high school to find work. Too many black families (200,000 African-Americans) have left Chicago, many in search of livable wages.

Bernie Sanders has been leading the charge nationally for the $15 MW. Hillary Clinton, ever the triangulatorhas been resistant to such a federal law. Up until now, she's pushed for a gradually-imposed $12/hr. bill,  but now says she could sign such a $15 bill with "stipulations", if elected.

I guess this is what they mean when they say Bernie is "pushing her to the left". I'm doubtful.

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