Thursday, January 09, 2014

How minimal is minimum (when it comes to wages across the state of Ill.)?

It has been awhile since I have had to work a job that paid minimum wage – so long that I recall being paid $3.25 an hour.

RAUNER: $7.25?
In fact, I suspect most people don’t give much thought to the issue; unless they happen to be in circumstances under which that is all anyone wants to pay them – and those employers go out of their way to complain that even that amount of money is too much.

SO I’M GUESSING it’s going to be a bit of a shock to many people as this election cycle we’re now in will force them to give a thought to just how little someone can be paid for their work.

Currently, employers in Illinois are required to pay their hourly workers no less than $8.25 per hour (which I would have thought of as a fortune back when I was 16 and didn’t know any better).

Gov. Pat Quinn is on the record as supporting an increase of the state minimum wage to $10 per hour. While voters in Chicago will be asked to vote on a referendum question as to whether the minimum wage ought to be boosted to $15 per hour.

Which is the rate that many of those organized labor protests outside of fast food franchise restaurants are demanding. I can recall when I was in junior high school, one of my fellow students felt the need to boast that her father had a $15 hourly salary – which was meant to sound impressive.

THEN AGAIN, $15 an hour doesn’t buy as much as it did a third of a century ago.

On the Republican side of the electoral equation, most of the candidates for governor are trying to avoid saying anything about the issue. Why tick off poor people who can vote (even though I suspect some GOP types wish that somehow the vote could be taken from them)?

QUINN: $10?
Except for Bruce Rauner, the wealthy venture capitalist and friend of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He used a candidate forum in the Quad Cities to say he wants to drop the state’s minimum wage, although in recent days he's tried to back track by saying he merely wants to study the issue.

A reduction is possible because the U.S. government has a $7.25 per hour minimum wage that applies across the nation, unless individual states wish to go higher. Illinois does. Indiana – for example – does not, which translates even at higher pay scales into the idea among Indiana residents that they have to come work in Illinois to make real money.

RAUNER SPEWS RHETORIC about wanting Illinois to be “competitive” with other states, implying that companies will want to locate elsewhere because they can save a buck (literally) on labor costs.

CHICAGO VOTERS: $15???
Actually, it just shows him taking sides, and it certainly isn’t with organized labor. This will be yet another reason why some of the unions in this state will decide to put their campaign cash into supporting anybody BUT Bruce.

Of course, some of the national organizations are choosing to give their cash to Quinn instead of a Republican primary campaign that they probably wouldn’t support in the November general election.

There are going to be a lot of choices for people who wouldn’t otherwise bother to even think about the issue. It will be curious to see who winds up prevailing, and how much of a statement it winds up making about the value of labor in Illinois.

AS FOR RAUNER, his attitude on this issue and other related questions winds up coming across as someone who doesn’t value the labor that does the work that enables companies to succeed.

It makes him seem like someone who wants to blame his employees for the fact that his profit margin isn’t higher. He’d better not be surprised when such an attitude winds up costing him votes come the March 18 primary.

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