Arlington Hts. board delays its vote on opting out of minimum-wage law

Supporters of laws calling for more pay rally at meeting

The Arlington Heights village board Monday delayed a vote on whether to opt out of two Cook County ordinances mandating that businesses pay employees for sick days and higher minimum wages, after a crowd rallied in support of the ordinances.

A number of suburban municipalities, including Barrington, Mount Prospect and Rosemont, have already passed formal ordinances opting out of the Cook County rules, and Arlington Heights trustees were expected to take a vote to do the same Monday night.

But Mayor Tom Hayes proposed a vote be delayed until May 1 to allow more time to hear from constituents - after 17 people spoke at Monday's meeting. Many of them rallied outside village hall before the meeting, and once inside, they held "$13" signs during public comment.

Municipalities have until July 1, when the county ordinances will take effect, to decide on following them.

Under the ordinances approved last October, the new Cook County minimum wage will be $10 an hour on July 1, $11 an hour in 2018, $12 an hour in 2019, and $13 an hour in 2020.

The current Illinois minimum wage is $8.25 - the rate that will apply in communities that opt out of the county rules.

The sick leave ordinance will require most private employers in Cook County to offer up to five days of paid sick leave a year.

The proposed Arlington Heights opt-out ordinance, included as part of the board's Monday agenda, stated that the county ordinances "place an undue burden on employers" within the village.

Hayes said the opt-out ordinance came at the request of the local business community. Monday night, Jon Ridler, executive director of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, was the only speaker at Monday's meeting who encouraged trustees to opt out, arguing the county rules would create an unfair form of taxation on businesses and increase the price of goods. A number of businesses in town "meet and exceed" the minimum wage, he added.

The majority of speakers supported the county ordinances.

Ann Gillespie, a 27-year resident and retired pharmaceutical executive, recalled having to take minimum wage jobs to support her family when their father got injured and couldn't work.

"Many people move in and out of poverty due to life circumstances and it's happening every day here in suburban Cook County," she said.

While Hayes said it would be improper for him to state his position without hearing additional community input, he said it ultimately will come down to each board member's philosophy on the issue.

Trustee Jim Tinaglia, who owns an architecture firm in Arlington Heights, said he sees both sides of the fence.

"I have a heart and certainly understand it's impossible to rent an apartment, make a car payment, buy groceries, and live on $8.25 an hour," said Tinaglia, who also wanted to take in additional input before taking a vote.

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  Supporters of a higher minimum wage hold "$13" signs at the Arlington Heights village board meeting Monday night. Christopher Placek/
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