Tuesday, November 1, 2016

When it comes to $13 minimum wage; we won’t pay, some communities say!

I wasn’t the least bit surprised to stumble across a story published by the Daily Herald newspaper in the northwestern suburbs – one that says some communities are planning to resist the recent effort by the Cook County Board to impose a higher minimum wage for the suburbs.
PRECKWINKLE: Some don't want to honor wage boost

The Chicago City Council already has enacted a plan that will gradually boost the minimum wage for companies based in the city up to $13 an hour by the year 2019.

IT WOULD SEEM that county board commissioners didn’t like appearing to be cheapskates by comparison to aldermen in the city.

So last week, they approved their own measure that will impose annual increases in the minimum wage through 2020 – by which time it also will be $13 an hour.

Currently, the minimum wage is $8.50 – which already is above the $7.25 hourly rate that is required by the federal government.

Meaning that people who work crummy jobs in Illinois already get paid a little bit more than their counterparts in other states – particularly Indiana, where it is noticeable that someone working as a fry cook in Hammond gets less than someone doing the same job at a Burger King based in the Hegewisch neighborhood.

SOME SEE THIS as a good thing. Our workers are getting paid better. Others are more than willing to look at it as the ultimate of stupidity – our companies have to pay more for the same low-skilled labor, and it cuts into their bottom line.

After all, the basic rule of business is that anything that cuts into the profit margin is bad. Very, very bad!!!

That explains the Daily Herald report, which indicates that officials in Barrington, Elk Grove Village and Prospect Heights are seriously looking at ways they can legally exempt themselves from the spirit of the Cook County Board’s action.

Which is that minimum wage workers in those municipalities don’t have to receive the same pay as workers in other communities. For all I know, they may wish they could get out of paying the state minimum wage and try to comply with the federal pay rate.

NOW I’M NOT aware they’re going to try for that. Something like that is probably their ultimate fantasy that they can only wish for.

But it doesn’t surprise me to learn that some companies are fully capable of thinking of their labor as an entity that cuts into their profit margin – rather than being a necessary expense that enables them to make money.

That is, unless the company is poorly managed and the executives ought to be replaced. Then again, it’s probably easier for them to think it’s the workers’ fault – they’re making too much money.

What I expect these municipalities (and there may well be more in other parts of Cook County) to argue is that the county board merely governs the unincorporated parts of Cook County. Businesses located in areas that are not a part of any specific municipality would have to comply with the county’s rules.

THEN AGAIN, SUCH parts of the county usually are isolated and don’t have much in the way of business located within them. Which means that the county board clearly meant to impact suburban municipalities with its efforts.

But we’re going to hear a lot about “home rule” that gives local governments the authority to set their own policy on assorted issues. We may even get the General Assembly involved in trying to pass some convoluted measures that would give specific communities the right to get around this issue. My own experience of covering Cook County government is that there are those people who believe its authority to do anything is so very restricted – even though it potentially can impact people the most in their daily lives.

The fact is that people are going to have to decide just how much they care about the ability of someone whose lot in life sticks them with low-skilled jobs to be able to earn an income that they can actually live upon.

The simple fact is that the person ringing up the cash register when you order that salad at McDonald’s may be about the most invisible individual you encounter – unless you take into account the person who has to mop up the floor after you leave.


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