Chicago, IL – On Thursday, January 30, 2014, Chicago Aldermen, along with low-wage workers and community groups, will hold a press event at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington at 10 am, to endorse the city referendums slated for the March 18th primary ballots asking voters whether major corporations and businesses that made over $50 million in the previous tax year should be required to pay workers a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
“Raising the minimum wage is long overdue. We need to give our workers an opportunity to earn a living wage,” said Alderman Roderick Sawyer of the 6th Ward.
This week, both President Obama’s “State of the Union” and Governor Quinn’s “State of the State” addresses have called for improving wages for working families to fight the growing income inequality crisis. Aldermen, low wage workers and community leaders attending Thursday’s press event will make the case that it’s time to lift wages for working families and that all levels of government, including Chicago, must act in response to the growing income inequality crisis.
"We need to move away from the failed concept of ‘trickle-down’ to a ‘middle-out’ model of economics. A $15 an hour wage floor will put more purchasing power into the hands of workers and boost direct spending in our communities.
It is well known fact that real wages have been flat for decades. The minimum wage, established in the early '60's, adjusted for inflation and productivity gains should be at $15 just to keep pace with the economic expansion that has resulted in record profits for large corporations. It is time the workers that are responsible for this expansions realize this modest benefit,” said 45th Ward Alderman John Arena.
Currently, a full-time minimum wage worker in Chicago only earns $17,000 a year, which is barely enough to make ends meet, much less support a family. The majority of Chicago’s low-wage workers are over the age of 30, and over half live in households receiving all of their income from low-wage jobs.
"Living on $8.25 is constantly one sacrifice after another sacrifice," said Janah Bailey a McDonald's worker. It's not right that a majority of us are relying on public assistance to be able to eat or go to the doctor when these corporations make billions of dollars every year. It's time for people to speak out because these corporations just keep getting rich off our labor."
The economic rift between the billion dollar profits of downtown corporations and the paltry income of workers generating those profits is no more glaring than in Chicago’s struggling communities. Neighborhood ills like foreclosures, closed schools, food deserts, violence and crime are all closely connected to a lack of living wage jobs.
“Raising the minimum wage plays a big part in improving our neighborhoods. When workers make a living wage they can put money back into the community,” stated Gloria Warner, an Englewood resident and President of the community organization Action Now.
The press event marks the beginning of a major push by a coalition of community organizations to educate and mobilize voters to pass the city referendums on the March 18th ballot. Early voting begins on Monday, March 3rd.
Chicago aldermen standing with low-wage workers and community groups
Alderman John Arena, (45th Ward)
Alderman Will Burns (4th Ward)
Alderman Jason Ervin (28th Ward)
Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward)
Alderman Toni Foulkes (15th Ward)
Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th Ward)
Alderman Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward)
Alderman Ricardo Munoz (22nd Ward)
Alderman Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward)
Alderman Nick Sposato (36th Ward)
Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward)
Community organizations working to raise the minimum wage and fight income inequality:
Action Now, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Grassroots Collaborative’s “Take Back Chicago” Campaign, SEIU Healthcare Illinois