Palatine joins towns opting out of county minimum wage, sick-time rules
While a majority of residents voting in a referendum supported increasing the minimum wage and ensuring sick leave for workers, Palatine village council members decided unanimously to opt out of recent Cook County ordinances that would do just that.
The ordinances, passed by the Cook County Board in October 2016, go into effect in July, but municipalities can opt out. That's what many neighboring suburbs have done, including Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows, Barrington and Schaumburg. On Monday night, Palatine joined the list.
One county ordinance increases the minimum wage in the county from the present $8.25 to $10 in July 2017, with a dollar increase per year until it hits $13 in 2020. The other allows employees to accrue up to five days of paid sick leave each year.
At the meeting Monday, several residents testified in support of the ordinances, which they said are the right thing to do. In addition to residents, members of Arise Chicago, a workers rights group, were on hand, as were Cook County Clerk David Orr and Jonathan Buckner, a representative for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Resident Barbara Gordon reminded the council that in 2014, 60 percent of Palatine residents voted in favor of the minimum wage increase and 75 percent voted in favor of providing sick leave for workers in a nonbinding statewide referendum.
"As elected officials, your job is to listen to the will of the people. Residents supported increasing the minimum wage and ensuring sick leave," Gordon said, adding that she believes thousands of people in Palatine work for the minimum wage.
Village Manager Reid Ottesen said Palatine faced a dilemma because several neighboring communities had already opted out of the plans and businesses could go to neighboring Lake County.
"We already have sales tax and property tax disadvantages compared to Lake County. This would be two more disadvantages," Ottesen said.
Citing nearby municipalities that have already opted out, council member Scott Lamerand said Palatine would be on an island if it supported the county's plan.
"It doesn't mean Home Depot is closing up and leaving if we approve this, but it may stop the next business from coming here," Lamerand said.
After the unanimous vote to opt out, Arise Chicago member Luke Sullivan conceded the result Monday was "a big setback."
Palatine resident Kim Cavill, disappointed by the vote, said she is thinking about getting more involved in politics.
"I love the diversity here, I love the schools, but I am disappointed. I am seriously considering running for office," she said.