On May 15 the Wilmette Village Board met to hear public comment about the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance. The Wilmette Board opted out of this ordinance in June of 2017 and chose to reopen that decision. Members of a working group which wants to adopt the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance have been working since June of 2017 to reopen the discussion. This group includes members who do not live in Wilmette.
The County Minimum Wage Ordinance has set a minimum wage target of $13 per hour effective July 2020. Incremental raises will occur between now and 2020. Currently, Wilmette’s minimum wage is $8.25 per hour. The proposed increase is $4.75 which represents a 58% increase in Wilmette minimum wages. Of interest is the fact that the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance exempts all government workers. That means that the 22,000+ employees of Cook County do not benefit from the county minimum wage provisions. No Cook County employee will receive the $13 per hour minimum wage benefit in 2020.
On May 15, members of the Wilmette business community spoke against adoption of the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance. Most employers in Wilmette already pay wages above the current $8.25 floor but they want to maintain wage flexibility. They want to remain in business during recessions and to avoid layoffs. Business owners also acknowledged being threatened with boycotts if they spoke out against this proposed change to minimum wages. Even under threat of retaliation, 40% of business owners in Wilmette did register their opposition to the adoption of the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance.
80% of the municipalities in Cook County have opted out of the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance. The Wilmette business community should remain independent, viable and competitive. Wilmette should not be subject to the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance. We need to support our business community. Make your voice heard. Call the Village of Wilmette and your Wilmette Board members. Tell them you oppose the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance. Time is short. The Wilmette Village Board will decide the issue June 26.
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