On the 28th of May, 2014, the Raise Chicago Coalition linked up with Chicago Aldermen for a press conference at the Chicago City Hall. The coalition of activist organizations that make up the Raise Chicago Coalition include Action Now, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Grassroots Collaborative, SEIU, and ONE Northside. The conference’s main goal was to announce the new ordinance that would establish a minimum wage of $15 in the city of Chicago to the City Council. Packed with labor organizations, community groups, low wage workers, elected officials and reporters, the press conference tackled the issue of minimum wage in detail. The audience displayed their full support by representing the Raise Chicago logo and holding up signs and boards to promote the issue.
There were several speakers that spoke out on the issue and presented their personal perspectives and struggles. Tanika Smith, a McDonald’s employee, mentioned how hard it is for her to pay the rent, pay her bills, and buy groceries with just $8.25 per hour. Another speaker named Darlene Pruitte pleaded the important of increasing the minimum wage since it is projected to generate $616 million dollars of new economic activity.
The main sponsors were three Chicago Aldermen who also displayed their support for the Raise Chicago Coalition. Alderman Roderick Sawyer of Chicago’s 6th ward said that “we should not be here today, we should have been here years ago” and explained how essential it is for Chicago to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour as soon as possible. Alderman John Arena of 45th ward and Alderman Joe Moreno of 1st ward proved their partnership for the cause as well by speaking at the press conference. (Update: As of 1:30 p.m., we got a total of 21 co-sponsors to sign on to the ordinance!)
Gloria Warner, the president of the organization Action Now, stated that “If the Mayor and City Council are serious about reducing violence and helping kids do better in school, then they need to create a minimum wage of $15 for Chicago workers."
The conference ended with Raise Chicago leader Amisha Patel explaining how the fight for fifteen is a national movement, rather than just a local movement. The leaders believe that Chicago should take the initiative to lead the movement. As a recent report by the National Employment Law Project states, “Seattle leaders, with substantial business and community support, recently agreed to phase that city’s minimum wage up to $15. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City are proposing to do the same." This new ordinance was successfully introduced to the Chicago City Hall and all sponsors, leaders, and supporting audience present at the press conference were in vocal support of Chicago leading the movement of increasing the minimum wage.
This is a very serious issue that is a threat to numerous aspects of Chicago’s livelihood and it demands immediate action. Action Now urges the Chicago City Council to pass this ordinance now to help working families in Chicago.
Chicago Sun-Times, "Progressive aldermen propose $15-an-hour Chicago minimum wage"
Chicago Tribune, "Group calls for $15-an-hour minimum wage in Chicago"
CBS Chicago, "Aldermen Push For $15-An-Hour Minimum Wage"
HUffington Post, "Chicago Group Pushing For $15 Minimum Wage"
Crain's Chicago Business, "Chicago's minimum wage fight officially kicks off with $15 proposal"