Contact: Aileen Kelleher (312) 351-0395
For immediate release
"Voters Want $15" Say Community At Protest Outside Alderman Will Burns Office
92.6% of voters in Alderman Burns' ward supported a $15 dollar minimum wage, yet he signs on to Mayor’s opposing ordinance instead
On August 7th, 2014 at 10 a.m. the Raise Chicago coalition is holding a protest at the office of Alderman Will Burns at 435 E. 35th Street to hold him accountable for ignoring his constituents who voted 92.6% in favor of a $15 minimum wage. Instead of signing on to an ordinance for $15 introduced by his progressive colleagues, Burns decided to side with the Mayor on promoting a weaker ordinance that is not reflective of what the people want or need.
Raise Chicago is a coalition of community and labor organizations working to establish a fair minimum wage in the city of Chicago. When Raise Chicago organized a referendum for the public to vote on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, 86% of voters citywide voted "yes" in support, and in Alderman Burn’s Ward voter support was even higher at 92.6%! An ordinance has already been introduced in City Council that would increase the minimum wage to $15, yet Alderman Burns has refused to sign on to support it. Instead of siding with voters, he worked with Mayor Emanuel to craft an opposing ordinance that leaves out thousands of working families, and leaves tens of thousands of workers struggling in poverty.
“We are done with these do-nothing politicians who let the mayor set up back room deals that help his big business friends at the expense of Chicago’s communities. Aldermen like Will Burns just stand by while the mayor’s anti-worker and anti-education policies destroy our neighborhoods. We have to stand up for the children, families and communities of Chicago that are being devastated by poverty and violence,” said Adeline Bracey, member of community organization Action Now.
Alderman Will Burns was also a leader of the mayor’s appointed “Minimum Wage Working Group” that held public hearings across the city. Raise Chicago organizations attended all of the hearings, and we heard the same thing that Alderman Burns heard: Chicagoans want a $15 minimum wage. Despite the public mandate for $15, Chicagoans were ignored and the mayor’s “working group” came out with a minimum wage recommendation that completely leaves out domestic workers, only gives tipped workers a $1 increase, and has no separate phase-in for corporations and small businesses.
Selling out his community in order to serve the special interests of Mayor Emanuel is nothing new to Alderman Will Burns. He stood idle as schools were being closed and phased-out in his ward, and ushered in more charter and contract schools. As a result, Dyett High School is the only high school in Bronzeville, Oakland or Kenwood that is open to all students. The community has been fighting for years to make Dyett High School a world-class institution despite the Chicago Board of Education’s best efforts to close it down or turn it over to private operators. As of yet, Alderman Burns has taken very little action to help his constituents in that fight.
Dennis Sanders, a resident of the 4th Ward and a member of Kenwood Oakland Community Organization stated, “I don’t understand why Alderman Burns refuses to listen to the people. We elected him to represent us, but he only does what the mayor tells him to do. That’s not democracy and that’s not right. My voice and my vote should matter. The Dyett Green Technology and Global Leadership High School plan needs to be implemented, and the minimum wage needs to be $15 now!”
Raise Chicago is a coalition of community and labor groups working to win a fair minimum wage in the city of Chicago. Groups in the coalition include: Action Now, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Teachers Union, Grassroots Collaborative, Illinois Hunger Coalition, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Lugenia Burns Hope Center and SEIU Healthcare Illinois/Indiana.