Chicago businesses ponder plan to raise minimum wage to $15 in 2021

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CHICAGO — The push to raise minimum wage in Chicago is gaining traction, but not everyone’s on board.

Hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans make minimum wage and most say it’s impossible to make ends meet, so the city is discussing a raise. However, it’s not so simple. 

This week, Chicago’s City Council passed the Fair Workweek ordinance, requiring employers give workers at least two weeks advance notice of their schedule, but the alderman did not raise the minimum wage. That is still under negotiation. 

Back in June, Alderman Sophia King introduced the ordinance called Raise Chicago. Under the plan, the minimum wage in Chicago would go up to $14 on July 1 of next year and then it would climb to $15 on July 1, 2021. 

Springfield raised the minimum wage to $15 throughout the state, but that does not take into effect until 2025.

If city council passes the ordinance, Chicago would reach the $15 requirement four years earlier than the rest of the state.

Workers and some small businesses are thrilled.

For 51 years, Leo Zayad has help suit up men at Fox Brothers Custom Tailor in the South Loop. He said his workers and everyone else’s workers should make more than $15 an hour. 

“When I started working here in 1968, $2.25 an hour, I was happy, not now,” Zayad said. “They cannot live with less than that. The transportation, the gas is high, everything is high.”

Dan Arce, the owner of Tropical Optical in Little Village, has a different view.

“I don’t think it’s good,” Arce said. “I think it would hurt this community in Little Village because a lot of entry level jobs are here on 26th Street and eventually it will raise the prices for everything. We would have to raise the prices.”

Arce employees 45 full-time people. He said he wants wages to go up, but doing so would hurt.

“The city, they want to do it too quickly,” Arce said. “It would just be bad for us. I would tell them to hold off if you can until at least next year.”


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