Advocates renew push for higher minimum wage in Arlington Heights

 
 
Updated 9/5/2018 6:04 PM
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  • Supporters of a higher minimum wage hold signs during an Arlington Heights village board meeting Tuesday to urge board members to "opt in" to Cook County's $11-an-hour rate.

      Supporters of a higher minimum wage hold signs during an Arlington Heights village board meeting Tuesday to urge board members to "opt in" to Cook County's $11-an-hour rate. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

Advocates for a higher minimum wage have renewed their push to get the Arlington Heights village board to "opt in" on Cook County's higher $11-an-hour rate, though the village's mayor said Tuesday he considers it a settled issue.

A few proponents holding signs attended a village board meeting Tuesday to urge Mayor Tom Hayes and trustees to reverse their May 1, 2017, decision to opt out of county ordinances raising the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2020 and mandating businesses offer up to five days of paid sick leave a year.

More than 100 Cook County municipalities opted out of the county minimum wage last year -- allowing the state's $8.25-an-hour rate to stand -- though Wilmette and Willow Springs recently reversed course.

That prompted local activists to renew efforts at getting Arlington Heights' board to reconsider its decision.

"I think there is a great deal of public support for an increase in the minimum wage," said Geri Wasserman, an organizer with Reclaim Northwest Suburbs.

Wasserman cited statistics that 65 percent of Arlington Heights voters supported a higher state minimum wage and 75 percent favored paid sick days in nonbinding referendums.

Two more nonbinding questions will be on the Nov. 6 ballot asking Cook County voters if they support increasing the minimum wage and providing paid sick days.

In response to Wasserman and four others who spoke Tuesday night, Hayes said it's not his intention to reopen debate about the minimum wage, which he believes is a state and federal issue. Hayes was on the majority side of the 5-4 vote to opt out.

"The village of Arlington Heights went above and beyond in terms of our discussion last year on this minimum wage issue, more than other communities that decided to opt out," Hayes said. "I don't see there's anything new I would consider that would change my vote or cause this to reconsider our prior vote."

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