WILMETTE – The Wilmette Village Board will consider whether to opt out of Cook County’s minimum wage and mandatory sick time ordinances at a meeting on June 27.
A village ordinance was introduced at the board’s June 13 meeting, essentially withdrawing from Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance No. 16-5768 and the Cook County Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Ordinance No. 16-4229.
The Wilmette/Kenilworth Chamber Commerce earlier urged the village board to reject the Cook County ordinances before they take effect on July 1.
In a letter dated June 1, Executive Director Julie Yusim said the chamber had conducted a survey of its members, and a majority of responses supported opting out. “The Chamber does not believe it is right for county government to regulate these business issues,” Yusim wrote.
The Cook County wage ordinance sets the minimum wage to $10 per hour, which will go up $1 per hour each year so that by July 1, 2020, the minimum wage will be $13 per hour. The sick leave ordinance provides one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked, for employees who have worked at least 80 hours within a 120-day period, up to a maximum of 40 hours.
The Cook County ordinances only apply to the private sector and thus exclude all village, park district, library and school employees. The rules also do not apply to unionized employees.
When the village ordinance was introduced at a June 13 village board meeting, the board did not discuss the issue, indicating it would hold off until the June 27 meeting. But since then, Trustee Joel Kurzman sent an email to some residents stating his support of the Cook County ordinances, while seeking input from the community.
“It feels unbecoming for a community like Wilmette, where the average household annual income is over $200,000, to deny a minimum wage putting an individual’s annual income at about $20,000. Additionally, I am sensitive to the fact that women disproportionately work in minimum wage jobs and care for young children; they often need sick time not just for themselves, but to care for their sick children,” Kurzman wrote in a June 19 email.
Already 49 municipalities throughout Cook County have chosen to opt out of Cook County’s ordinances, including some as close as Glenview, Northbrook, Buffalo Grove and Niles.
President Bob Bielinski sent a memorandum on this issue to the village board on June 19, where he expressed no view but shared information. President Bielinski said he asked the following individuals to submit additional information for the board’s consideration, as well as extended an invitation to each to speak at the June 27 meeting.
- Larry Suffredin, Cook County Commissioner (D-Evanston), sponsor of the County ordinances,
- Sean Morrison, Cook County Commissioner (R-Orland Park), an opponent of the County ordinances,
- Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, and
- Ron Powell, President, Local 881 United Food and Commercial Workers union.
President Bielinski’s memorandum also references numerous academic articles on the issue of minimum wage, as well as a Harvard Business School study of the effect of minimum wage laws on the restaurants in San Francisco, for board members to read.
There has also been some question of the legality of the Cook County ordinances, although neither have been challenged in court. Whether Cook County has the authority to adopt the ordinances has been called into question by Cook County’s State’s Attorney, an opinion that Wilmette’s own attorney Jeffrey Stein supports in a memorandum to the board dated June 19.
Stein further opines that Wilmette has home rule authority to opt out of Cook County’s ordinances, but does not have authority to pass its own minimum wage or sick leave rules.
To see all of the village documents on this issue, visit www.wilmette.com.