Hoffman Estates recommends opting out of minimum-wage hike
Hoffman Estates village board members Monday unanimously recommended opting out of Cook County laws raising the minimum wage and requiring paid sick days for part-time workers.
That agreement was reached despite a spirited and nuanced discussion among the elected officials as well as with a disagreeing resident and businessman.
Trustee Gary Stanton initially proposed the village go along with Cook County in raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour on July 1. But in contrast to the county, he suggested keeping it at that level for three years rather than raising it $1 more an hour each year through 2020.
He decried how little the minimum wage has increased since 1972 compared to how much the price of everything else has risen.
But he changed his mind about a Hoffman Estates-specific minimum wage after Village Attorney Art Janura reported that Cook County's own state's attorney's office had suggested neither counties nor municipalities had the legal authority to set one.
Most village board members agreed with their counterparts in several neighboring communities that minimum wage and sick-time regulations are better set by the state to ensure a level playing field for businesses. Many Northwest suburbs border or overlap other counties.
Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod took the argument a step further.
"Ideally it would be done nationally," he said. "Just as we're next to other counties, Illinois is next to other states."
Village resident and podiatrist Robert Steinberg said Stanton had been on the right track at the start and that the village board shouldn't join other communities in listening only to their business communities and not their residents.
"It's unconscionable," Steinberg said. "Of course businesses don't want to pay any more."
Village board members will cast final votes on their own recommendation at 7 p.m. Monday, May 15, at village hall, 1900 Hassell Road.
Other suburbs that have already opted out of the Cook County laws include Arlington Heights, Barrington, Bartlett, Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Rosemont, Schaumburg, Streamwood and Wheeling.
Illinois' minimum wage is currently $8.25 an hour.
The Cook County sick-leave law requires businesses to provide one hour of sick leave per 40 hours of work, up to five days a year.
Business organizations critical of the law have argued that the greater hardship it causes for businesses -- especially small businesses -- is the legal requirement to formally track employees' time, which can lead to higher payroll costs.