Chicago to Vote on Non-Binding Living Wage Increase


Chicago took a step this week in its living wage campaign after community groups collected enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot calling for a $15 per hour minimum wage. 

The ballot measure would ask voters in March whether businesses that make over $50 million in profits should pay their workers $15 per hour. The measure would not apply to small businesses.

The referendum is non-binding. Even if it passes, there are no requirements that the wage be raised, according to Aileen Kelleher, a spokesperson for Action Now.  However, a “yes” vote would give city officials a good picture of residents’ feelings about increasing worker pay.

The current minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 per hour, which translates to about $17,000 a year. The Economic Policy Institute has calculated a parent and one child living in Chicago needs more than $53,000 to cover necessities including food, housing, transportation and health care.

The signature-gathering campaign was led by the Raise Chicago Coalition, Action Now, and other groups, along with low-wage workers.

Action Now works on community organizing, especially in regards to foreclosure issues, quality education for low-income and minority students and raising the minimum wage in Illinois.

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