Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Not unheard of for Chicago to have its own legal standard on many measures

It’s not at all unusual for there to be different standards in the law between Chicago or Cook County and the rest of Illinois. Anyone reading state statutes carefully will find many references to laws that apply only to communities of “3 million or more people.”

The Legislatures’ intent in passing such measures was to have them apply only to Chicago, and to specifically not have them apply to rural parts of Illinois.

NOW I KNOW there’s going to be at least one smart aleck who’s going to feel compelled to point out that Chicago’s population has declined to the point where even that “3 million” standard doesn’t make a difference.

But the point is that there are Chicago-only standards written into state law.

That is why I can’t get all worked up by those individuals who are upset that the City Council on Tuesday approved a plan to boost the minimum wage within Chicago ultimately to a higher rate than state officials want to go to.

There are business-oriented people (who if they were to get their wish, Illinois would reduce its minimum wage rate from the current $8.25 per hour to the federal $7.25 standard) who are now saying there will be chaos and calamity caused by the idea of companies operating in Chicago having to pay their unskilled workers more than they do in other parts of Illinois.

I SAY COMPANIES that truly have their act together will be able to adjust. Companies that can’t were probably being hit with harsher problems than just the compensation levels they were paying their employees – who are, after all, the people who do the work that produce the products or services that enable a company to claim anything in the way of profits.

Of course, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has made it clear he’s still in line with those business executives who wish to bolster their bottom line at the expense of their employees.

He said on Tuesday that he still doesn’t want any political action on a minimum wage measure until after he becomes governor in January, and he wants it tied to a series of measures meant to benefit those who fantasize about Illinois someday becoming a “right to work” state.

The Legislature seems willing to hold off – officials there who back a statewide minimum wage boost say they likely don’t have enough political support to approve anything.

BUT MAYOR RAHM Emanuel got the City Council on Tuesday to back the boost in Chicago; because he wants to be able to have the accomplishment in his campaign literature. How long will it be until we get campaign ads on television touting Emanuel’s action toward paying working class people more money for their labor?

All so he can have a chance at getting our vote come Election Day!

So now, we have a state with an $8.25/hour minimum wage that might, or might not, go up to about $11 per hour.

While in Chicago, we have a rate that will soon shoot up to $10/hour and keep going up in increments to $13/hour by 2019.

DON’T BE SURPRISED if a phenomenon that has long existed along the Illinois/Indiana border (where the Hoosier state uses the federal rate for its minimum wage) will arise – people from other places who find it practical to commute will be eager to get a job in Chicago.

The city’s businesses will be the ones that can get more choosy about the quality of people they hire. I know some will want to claim that businesses themselves will eagerly flip across the city limits into suburbs, if they can; which could wind up making those who remain all the more attractive.

And it has me wondering how long it will take for the rest of Illinois to get with the program and figure out that a lot of these allegedly “pro-business” measures the conservative ideologues tout are actually nothing more than measures that make our companies less desirable to work for.

How does that make Illinois, as a whole, any more attractive?


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