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City Council votes to raise the minimum wage to $13 by 2019

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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An ordinance to raise the minimum wage for all Chicago workers was passed earlier this afternoon, ensuring an increase in hourly earnings for more than 400,000 workers in the city. The measure, which was sponsored by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a group of Aldermen, will increase the minimum wage in Chicago from the current statewide rate of $8.25 to $10 in July 2015. From there, the minimum wage will increase 50 cents in July 2016 and again in July 2017, bringing it to $11. One dollar increases in July 2018 and July 2019 will result in a $13 hourly minimum wage. City Council passed the ordinance with a vote of 44-5, with Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward), Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), Ald. Matthew O’Shea (19th), Ald. Mary O’Connor (41st) and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) opposing the measure.

The ordinance passed ahead of an upcoming vote for a statewide proposal introduced by Senator Kimberly Lightford, which would raise the Illinois minimum wage to $11 by mid-2019. Ald. Brendan Reilly and Ald. Tom Tunney attempted to delay the council vote until state lawmakers are able to vote on the statewide proposal, but were outnumbered by supporters for the ordinance. Opponents of the city's minimum wage increase cited concerns about businesses moving away from the city which would result in lower employment.

Supporters who have campaigned for a $15 minimum wage applauded City Council's ordinance, but made it clear that they will continue the fight for further wage increases. In a press release, Executive Director of Grassroots Illinois Action Amisha Patel delivered a backhanded compliment to Mayor Emanuel, stating "In the past seven days, the Mayor has shown us what is possible when he has the political will to make things happen. He could have given Chicago a raise years ago. Chicago families need progress every year, not just during election year."

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