Des Plaines bucks trend, will follow minimum wage, sick day law
Des Plaines city council members Monday narrowly voted to follow a Cook County law to increase the minimum wage and require paid sick days, bringing cheers from supporters and warnings of dire consequences from business leaders.
The decision comes as a shock after many suburban communities have opted out of the law, which raises the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2020 and requires five days of sick leave for full-time workers. After impassioned pleas by residents and community activists and arguments from business owners, the council voted 4-3 on both measures.
"I am overjoyed. I am totally surprised," said Grace Pai, an organizer with The People's Lobby, an organization that held a rally on Miner Street in front of city hall before the meting. "I think this is a huge win."
Opponents of the measure were bleak. Eighth Ward Alderman Mike Charewicz, who owns a car mechanic shop, said the decision will badly hurt local businesses.
"It's huge what they did to the business community," he said. "We're now an island in Cook County."
Dozens of communities have already opted out of the laws going into effect July 1, including neighboring Mount Prospect, Rosemont, Schaumburg and Arlington Heights.
Dave Zardzin, who owns a Dairy Queen in Des Plaines, said the move will put his business in jeopardy because his costs will increase 15 to 20 percent.
"We will be competing with businesses across the street," he said.
But a contingent of about 20 supporters, many of whom had pink signs with "$13" written in black letters, cheered as supporters argued the minimum wage increase would actually help the local economy and improve lives for thousands.
Bogusz said his decision became a moral issue, not a business one.
"When our national leaders and our state leaders fall down, it's our job to stand up," Bogusz said, responding to arguments the issue shouldn't be legislated at the municipal level of government.
Aldermen Dick Sayad, Don Smith and Malcolm Chester voted in support of raising the minimum wage, with the mayor breaking a 3-3 tie. Sayad, Smith, Chester and Alderman Jack Robinson voted in support of the paid sick leave law.
Charewicz and aldermen Carla Brookman and Denise Rodd opposed both measures. First Ward Alderman Mark Lysakowski was absent.