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Wilmette to reconsider adopting Cook County minimum wage, sick time laws next month

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Chicago Tribune
by Kathy Routliffe

The Wilmette Village Board will consider next month whether to stick with a 2017 decision to opt out of Cook County’s minimum wage and paid sick time ordinances, or to opt back in to them.

Village President Bob Bielinski told a room full of supporters and opponents Tuesday that two ordinances repealing the board’s 2017 opt-out decision would be introduced when the board meets June 12. Board members could make the final decision at their June 26 meeting.

The board received a final report from a working group formed last year by Bielinski to research the potential impact of the ordinances on Wilmette employers, employees and residents. But members also heard from 37 people speaking for or against repealing the its June 27, 2017 decision to opt out of the county regulations that would hike the minimum wage in stages to $13 by 2020, and would require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees working at least 80 hours in a 120-day period.

After the 2017 vote, the board agreed to revisit the decision, and in December, Bielinski appointed a working group to gather research.

Forrmer village president John Jacoby, who chaired the working group through seven meetings and months of data gathering, presented highlights from its final 436-page report.

Among the findings:

• State employment data shows that 20 percent of workers in Wilmette are considered low-wage earners, making $1,250 or less a month

• A survey of Wilmette businesses found that 54 percent oppose the minimum wage ordinance, and 57 percent opposed the paid sick time ordinance

• A survey of residents showed 66 percent supported the minimum wage ordinance and 67 supported the paid sick time ordinance

• While academic research is inconclusive, Jacoby said, “in general, the literature finds that minimum wage has a small impact or no impact on employment.”

Jacoby said his seven-person body worked hard to avoid bias in the questions it asked and in the final report.

“I think folks who want to opt in can find data in this report to support their position, and folks who oppose it can also find data to support their position,” Jacoby said.

Of the 37 people who spoke at the meeting, 19 supported opting back in to the county’s guidelines, while 18 argued against doing so.

Opponents said the wage and sick time requirements would hurt both village businesses and minimum wage workers, and represented undue government encroachment on business owner’s ability to operate.

Supporters said the county rules wouldn’t hurt local businesses, and would improve the lives of Wilmette’s low wage workers.

Information on the working group’s report is available at, in the agenda packet for the committee of the whole meeting.

Twitter @pioneer_kathy

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