Suburbs: Don't 'opt out' of minimum-wage hike

Posted5/1/2017 5:00 AM

Arlington Heights and Des Plaines are considering taking away the rights granted by Cook County to minimum wage increases and paid sick days. Mount Prospect already did.

This is being done despite the fact that Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, and Mount Prospect citizens overwhelmingly voted in favor of both policies in 2014 and 2016 election referendums: 65-67 percent of voters supported the minimum wage increase and more than 75 percent supported paid sick days.


The county ordinances are already law. However, all three municipalities actively drafted laws to "opt-out" of the ordinances at the request of local chambers. These drafted laws were created without input from local residents.

Mount Prospect's Board passed their law to take away these rights without hearing from citizens. Arlington Heights agreed to delay their vote after receiving hundreds of calls and emails from constituents, and listening to testimony from many constituents.

Business interests claim that the Cook County ordinances will cause businesses to relocate, cut jobs and close down. However, the available data proves these assertions are false. Areas where similar laws have been passed show no statistically significant impact in terms of job loss, job relocation or business failure (small or large).

In fact, the data shows that such policies benefit employers and local economies. With paid sick days, employers save on reduced turnover and training costs. Local economies in cities like Seattle experienced growth in service industries, and a decrease in unemployment after a minimum-wage increase.

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In short, the Cook County laws will help struggling working families move out of poverty, boost the local economy, and improve local businesses.

Suburban Cook County municipalities: Don't do something that will damage your reputations, your democracy, and your communities' economic and physical health. Don't take away your citizens' rights to the minimum wage increase and paid sick days.

Ann Gillespie

Arlington Heights

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