Tuesday, May 23, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
At a May 16 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted unanimously on an ordinance that would effectively exempt private employers in the village from ordinances passed last October by the Cook County Board of Commissioners that would increase the minimum wage and establish earned sick leave for employees.
Under the county’s minimum wage law, private employers would be required to pay employees $10 an hour starting July 1, 2017. The current minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 an hour.
The minimum wage in Cook County would then increase by $1 each year through 2020. On July 1, 2021 and each July afterwards, the minimum wage will increase by the rate of inflation up to 2.5 percent. If unemployment is over 8.5 percent, however, there will be no increase.
At a May 10 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee meeting where the matter was discussed, Maywood attorney Michael Jurusik said that the county’s minimum wage ordinance creates an “uneven playing field for employers and employees inside and outside of Cook County.”
Many home rule municipalities have opted-out of the county’s minimum wage law, creating an uneven patchwork of wage levels across the county. In addition, Jurusik said, the wage law also creates an uneven playing field between counties.
“The communities that are opting out want the state to address this in order to create an even playing field,” Jurusik said, before explaining that he wasn’t recommending a particular course of action for the village to take on the matter.
“When a community opts out, it creates an uneven playing field not only for employers but for employees,” he said. “You can have people in [neighboring] communities working the same job and getting different wages. That’s in Cook County. If you’re next to, say, DuPage County, you can have a scenario with three different sets of rules.
“Cook County took a step forward and raised the bar and I applaud them for that, but they’ve created now a patchwork of communities opting out, which [those communities] have a constitutional right to do.”
So far, Jurusik said, at least 13 other villages in Cook County have opted out, including Bellwood (which opted out in March), River Forest and Elmwood Park. Jurusik said he didn’t find any indication that Broadview, Forest Park or Melrose Park had opted out yet. The county’s minimum wage law doesn’t apply to public employers like municipalities, Jurusik said.
Currently, Springfield is working on a proposed minimum wage law, called HB 198, which would raise the minimum wage for both private and public employers across the state from its current level to $9 on January 1, 2018. The minimum wage would then increase to $10, $11.25, $13 and $15 each subsequent year until 2022.
As of April 28, HB 198 had been referred to the House Rules Committee. State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th), whose district encompasses Maywood, Bellwood, Broadview and other western suburbs, is listed as a co-sponsor of the proposed legislation.
“If House Bill 198 is enacted, it would provide a uniform minimum wage applicable to all Illinois employers and employees, as opposed to the Cook County Ordinance, which only applies to private employers within Cook County, and not public employers, like the Village,” Jurusik stated in a May 2 memo.
Jurusik stated that the county’s ordinance “may have been intended to push the state to establish a higher state-wide minimum wage.” VFP