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Elgin opting out of minimum wage increase

Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Daily Herald
by Elena Ferrarin

Elgin City Council members voted unanimously last week at their committee of the whole meeting not to follow Cook County's decision to increase the hourly minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 effective July 1, and to $13 by 2020.

Also on July 1, employees in Cook County will be eligible for earned sick leave when they work at least 80 hours within a 120-day period.

Municipalities can opt out of both laws; about 25 percent of Elgin is in Cook County, the rest is in Kane County.

Employers in Elgin's Cook County portion would be hurt if the city goes along with the increase when neighbors aren't held to the same standards, city council members said.

Hoffman Estates, Streamwood, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows and Arlington Heights also are opting out of the Cook County rules.

The Illinois House on Tuesday approved a Senate bill that would set the minimum wage at $9 per hour starting Jan. 1, with gradual yearly increases to $15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2022. However, it's unclear if Gov. Bruce Rauner will veto the bill.

A majority of Elgin council members approved drafting a resolution exhorting the state and the federal government to implement living wages.

"I do believe people should make a living wage," Councilwoman Tish Powell said. "It hasn't been adjusted in a long time and the cost of living in America, and in particular in the Chicago area and Illinois, is pretty expensive."

Elgin Councilman Toby Shaw cast the only "no" vote on the resolution, arguing the free market should set wages based on supply and demand.

If the city were to follow Cook County's decision, nonprofits already hurting from the state's budget impasse will have to lay off some of it staff members, Councilman Terry Gavin said

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