Tuesday, December 2, 2014

If you want to improve learning outcomes, raise the minimum wage

Ald. John Arena speaking at a Raise Chicago Coalition news conference on a minimum wage proposal expected to be approved Tuesday by the Chicago City Council | Brian Jackson/ Sun-Times
One way to really improve student learning outcomes and lower dropout rates is to raise the minimum wage. A bill to do just that comes up today before the Chicago City Council and is likely to pass since it has the support of the mayor and many community organizations and unions in town.

Rahm's bill, which would gradually raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour over the next five years, was approved by a key City Council committee Monday evening, clearing the way for it to be brought before the full Council today.

It's not the bill we wanted -- $15/hour, like San Francisco -- but still a partial victory if it stands. It preempted a minimum wage bill in the IL State Legislature that would have raised the MW only to $11/hour and might have exempted Chicago altogether. One issue for progressives is the fact that the mayor’s plan only raises the hourly wage for tip workers by a dollar, to $5.95.

I liked the way the S-T's Spielman and Slodysco described Rahm's opportunism and his motivation for pushing the bill through the council:
Passage of the minimum wage hike is a cornerstone of Emanuel's shift to the political left — a move that will help him undercut the progressive base of his two strongest challengers: Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.
If that's the case, thanks to the left flank for pushing Rahm to act, if only to buy some political credibility.
 On Emanuel’s left flank, progressives argued the wage hike, which will be phased in over several years, doesn’t go far enough. Indeed, members of the Council’s progressive caucus were pushing for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. 
“It’s not enough. Clearly, it’s not enough. $15 an hour… is what we’re going to continue to fight for,” Fioretti said.

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