Please pass the living wage ordinance

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Oak Park trustee living wage supporters, please act now to pass an Oak Park Living Wage Ordinance. 

For roughly 10 years now, a broad coalition of Oak Parkers has been working to enact an Oak Park Living Wage Ordinance. In 2008, 60% of Oak Park voters (94% of precincts) supported a living wage in an advisory referendum. The village board referred the proposed LWO to the Community Relations Commission (CRC). After 13 months of study, and multiple public hearings, the commission recommended passage by a vote of 7 to 2. 

However, in an infamous July 2010, 4-3 vote, the Oak Park Board of Trustees rejected the LWO. They accepted the CRC report but stripped out the supportive recommendation. 

After the April 2013 elections, our coalition solicited support on the new board for an Oak Park LWO. Among current board members, Colette Lueck, Glenn Brewer Adam Salzman and Robert Tucker have assured us of their support for putting the LWO on the board agenda. After we confirmed that we had majority support on the board, we tried to find out when an Oak Park LWO would be acted on. On Feb. 21, 2013, the secretary to the village manager informed us that:

"In speaking with the village manager, based on our internal list, she anticipates this will be on an upcoming board agenda in June or July. Please keep in mind that this is a 'moving list,' but she plans to give advance notice when the date is set. Please let me know if you have any additional questions."

However, despite numerous reminders and requests over the past 15 months, no formal action has been taken. We find it exceedingly hard to understand why the board appears to have plenty of time for all kinds of local business development initiatives, but in the course of 10 years cannot find the will to act on a principled ordinance that the residents of Oak Park, and the volunteer CRC after 13 months of study, have asked them to implement. 

We urge the board to please pass an Oak Park Living Wage Ordinance now without further delay. It is hard to imagine an issue that more closely represents the spirit of tolerance, progressivity, and racial, ethnic, sexual, and economic diversity, that lies at the core of Oak Park's identity, and that is more politically relevant during these times of growing inequality and unemployment. 

Ron Baiman

Oak Parl

Reader Comments

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Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 9:08 PM

Can anyone justify this re hash of a re hash? How many OP employees work for minimum wage ?(My guess - NONE) How many vendors use minimum wage employees? (Again - NONE) A fools venture if I ever heard one.

OP Transplant  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 4:10 PM

@Real List - Understand that the LWO is kind of like the village's nuclear weapons ban. It's not about anything but making Oak Parkers feel better about themselves. If it ends up hurting the people it's supposed to help, that's their problem. We'll happily throw the actual working poor under the bus if it means burnishing our liberal credentials.

Real List  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 3:07 PM

Some facts...Less than 3 percent of the workforce earns the minimum wage. Most minimum-wage workers are not heads of households. More than half are students or other young people, usually part-time workers in families whose average income is $53K/yr. And 2/3 of minimum-wage workers get a raise in their first year. Knowing this, will LWO truly have the impact its supporters envision?

John Murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 1:57 PM

Joe - My Yes answer was a reply to whether minimum and living wage should be a state responsibility.

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 1:54 PM

Joe - the answer is Yes!

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 12:02 PM

Mr Baiman, lot of "change" since ongoing recession, our state on verge of bankruptcy due to pension crisis, the VOP & it's residents strapped for cash. The LWO passed in '08 w/o the public really knowing what it was. The current discussion over min wage law has opened folks' eyes to just how dumb these things are. They HURT the people you profess to care about. Low wage workers will lose jobs. What don't you get about that? LWO's cause more unemployment & inequality. Ridiculous!

joe from south oak park  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 11:54 AM

what is a living wage ordinance? what wage do folks consider livable? Is this better handled by the state which sets the minimum wage? is this enforceable or is it another toothless recommendation? lots of questions here.

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