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Minimum Wage Battle in Wilmette


Say NO to raising the mandatory minimum wage to $13/hour.

What you need to know:

– Cook County is trying to dictate to Wilmette small business owners that they must pay $13 an hour to employees by 2020, and this wage will go up by CPI every year after that. Also, that businesses must provide paid sick leave to employees, and this applies even to 16-year-old part-time workers once they’ve worked two weeks in any six month period.  Most Wilmette entrepreneurs already exceed the Cook County wage minimums and provide generous sick leave. They don’t need Cook County to tell them how to run their businesses.

-What businesses do need is a community that trusts them, and the ability to be flexible in both prosperous and lean times, through seasonal variations, or through any unexpected hardship. This means they get to decide what wages and benefits they are able to offer.

Some businesses think the Cook County ordinances won’t impact them. WRONG. The ordinances come with 80 pages of compliance mandates, which all businesses will have to meet. Dial up a compliance consultant now: if you post the wrong sized required sign in the wrong place, that’s $500 per violation PER DAY. This opens the door to people using the mandates to harass businesses and launch frivolous lawsuits.

The good news is that it’s not too late. The Wilmette Village Board can choose to opt out of this ordinance, as 80% of Cook County suburbs have already done. The final vote is June 26th. Your voice and presence at the meeting could make the difference.


The Village of Wilmette wisely voted to opt out of Cook County minimum wage hike/mandatory paid sick leave.  This has been a controversial subject and one where groups have actually boycotted small business who made a very reasoned request of the board to allow business owners to make decisions on rewarding workers with pay, rather than government imposing their determination on what constitutes a fair minimum wage.

One talking point for proponents of this mandatory minimum wage hike is that 70.7% of Wilmette residents voted for a ballot measure in 2014 for a $10/hour.   This is not true.  70.7% of Wilmette residents who voted in November 2014 supported a statewide minimum wage hike to $10.00.  The real math works out to be 42% of Wilmette residents who supported it, not 70.7% as stated incorrectly in this article.   Also, the minimum wage was going to be tied to CPI which could result in as much as $30/hour by ___.  Businesses cannot absorb those costs and should have the flexibility to reward workers who perform and are good fits for their business.

Proponents of this hike need to better understand how basic economics work.   Small businesses are the number one employer and job creator.  We need policies that support their ability to prosper and grow and create more jobs, not tell them how to run their business and how much to pay their employees.

And we should take heed from real world examples of what dramatic hikes to the minimum wage do.   It actually reduces employment opportunities.  The city of Seattle found that the number of minimum wage jobs dropped when they instituted a $15/hour minimum.   It was a policy that put people out of work.

Minimum wage jobs are crucial for obtaining entry-level work experience that enables people to then move on into better paying jobs.   Wilmette needs to encourage job creation, not curtail it.

What you can do:

  • Let local businesses know you back them and they are good guys – not bad guys – for working hard, taking a risk, starting a business, and providing jobs — often that first job for Wilmette kids, or great experience for young adults. Let them know you don’t want that to end.Tell them about New Trier Neighbors!
  • Write letters to the editor, and be active on social media supporting common sense on wages
  • Write the Village Board, and attend the Board meeting that will address this issue November 13th at Mallinckrodt


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