Living Wage debate resurfaces in Oak Park

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

It's been almost four years since Oak Park's village board rejected a proposed Living Wage ordinance, but on Monday trustees brought the issue back up for reconsideration.

The proposed ordinance that was rejected in 2010 would have set the wage at $13.85 an hour for village employees, employees of those contracting with the village and any business or group receiving a subsidy of more than $50,000 from the village.

Organizers of the proposed ordinance say that wage should be at least $15 an hour now. 

Bob Simpson, an Oak Park resident and a member of Action Now, which advocates for a $15 minimum wage, said wage disparity and poverty is a matter of life and death for many. Poverty not only leads to violence but also "kills slowly as stress and worry wears down a person's immune system, inviting multiple health problems."

"The ordinance in question does not cover all workers, but it's a step in the right direction," Simpson said. "I think there is room for improvement in its coverage, but in any event, please remember lives are in the balance."

Ron Baiman, an Oak Park resident and economics professor at Benedictine University, said in a telephone interview that the coalition to establish a living wage ordinance was formed 10 years ago, and in 2008, 60 percent of Oak Park voters approved an advisory referendum to pass a Living Wage ordinance. The proposed ordinance was approved by the village's Community Relations Commission in a 7-2 vote, but the recommendation was rejected by the board of trustees.

He said in an interview that more than 100 communities across the country have a living wage ordinance in place. He said the ordinance as proposed is narrow in scope and applies explicitly to "businesses that have received contracts from the village and only for work on that contract or subcontract and businesses that receive a substantial subsidy."

Baiman said he believes the ordinance should apply to large subsidies such as the $1.5 million subsidy the village recently granted to Pete's Fresh Market to open a new store at 259 Lake St. He said he also would like to see the ordinance adopted by other entities such as the park district and school district.

Trustees approved sending the proposal to village staff for review and agreed to have a report returned by July 11.

"This should not be a monumental task that requires months and months of study," Baiman said in an interview.

Trustee Adam Salzman said he brought the issue back up for consideration because "the 2010 discussion stuck me as a discussion that lacked an analysis of the economic impact."

"Other municipalities have adopted ordinances like this," Salzman said. "I think it would behoove us to take another look at this."

Village President Anan Abu-Taleb said the board should reach out to the business community and the Chamber of Commerce for their input on the impact of the proposed ordinance. He suggested hiring an outside consultant to consider the ramifications of the proposal for those impacted.

"I think it's important to get it right than to just get it done," he said.


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Posted: July 18th, 2014 12:54 PM

@John Butch Murtagh- Yes, I believe the article presents a rational assessment. Perusing the comments again, it looks like most grasp the basic economics. Unfortunately, the proponents of LW present emotional arguements that seek to ellicit guilt for success or disdain for corporate profit, not realizing this wealth goes primarily to middle class shareholders like us, or our 401Ks . No guilt, no pain, no fear...

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 1st, 2014 8:23 PM

BGS - Read the article you suggested posters read. Excellent article.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 25th, 2014 1:51 PM

The vast majority of min wage workers do not support households; they are teens, part-time, delayed, returning from incarceration or just out of highschool/GED program. Rarer cases of people perpetually earning minimum wage often involve competence or judgement issues that LW will not address. Folks are not choosing between food and heat as often as food, heat, cable, cell phone, car lease, tattoo bill, etc. Throwing cash at all to hit a few unwise or unsuccessful is foolhardy.

Kevin Shalla  

Posted: June 24th, 2014 8:03 PM

Increasing / imposing a minimum wage gives a short-term bonus to those lucky people who get the increase. What it does in the long run is create pressure to eliminate low-skill jobs through relocation, automation, and mechanization. You cannot legislate wealth, you can merely redistribute it. A better way to redistribute wealth is through reduction of taxes (or in some cases creating negative taxes).

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: June 24th, 2014 1:31 AM

I'm all for a living wage which means work at something that the employment market deems worthy of one. If you can't, ya better find a way to share expenses with someone who you may combine resources with to live on, and try not to incur more expenses (such as drug habits, unsupportable children, parking tickets, meals at McDonald's, vacations, entertainment etc) Face it- people/companies will rightly fight to keep their money and profitability with higher prices or fewer expenses (employees).

The costs supporters are hiding  

Posted: June 23rd, 2014 1:31 PM

There's a soft-sell on OP's costs to have a $15/hour wage for vendors and grant recipients. It needs bureaucracy to enforce it; vendors forms, payroll reviews, audits, village & vendor staff time, software etc. Do OP inspectors become union business agents ?" checking job sites to confirm $15/hour? Will it apply to TIF grants? Does OP audit the Collaboration for Early Childhood Development? Will we spend more $$s to implement than on actual wages?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 23rd, 2014 10:09 AM

Seems to me that brains are being highly overrated in the LW posts. Brains indicate potential and nothing else.

FPer from Forest Park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2014 10:03 AM

Dear Oak Park, Please implement this hike in the local minimum wage. Forest Park would LOVE to have all those businesses relocate over here.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 23rd, 2014 9:52 AM

OPTIMIST - The Majority Report for the 2010 Living Wage Recommendation contains a "performa ordinance." The document used to be on the village website under Community Relations, but it, along with the Minority Report have disappeared. The "performa ordinance" in the Majority Report was written by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU in 1994. The ordinance is located on page 21-29 of the Majority Report. Also available in the report is changes made by the commission to Brennan text, and supporting information for the majority viewpoints. The 2010 Report is available from the Village Clerk's Office or by an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Request.

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 23rd, 2014 9:10 AM

"Some people aren't 'brighter' than others." A nonsense assertion. I'm not white and I grew up poor. Low-income communities are full of low achievers, because anyone who has the skills or brains to get out does. I've lived in both poor and affluent communities. The people in affluent communities are on average much smarter, hands down. It's not even close. This "we're all identical but some people are kept down by the man" nonsense is excuse making. And yes, there are inequalities as well.


Posted: June 23rd, 2014 9:03 AM

@Realistic. But yet many semi-illiterate, non-English speaking immigrants come from Asia and their children end up being computer programmers, business owners, dentists, and physicians. Why? An emphasis on education, family, self-sacrifice, and very, very hard work. No "model" guarantees success, but being a single mother in your teens, regardless of race or neighborhood, makes it extremely difficult to succeed. Or do you think otherwise?


Posted: June 23rd, 2014 8:46 AM

"The harsh truth is, some people are brighter than others. Low-income communities tend not to be packed with our nation's brightest citizens" What a horrible, untrue (not to mention racist and classist) thing to say. Persons that come from a historically low-income families have been marginalized by our society for DECADES. Some people aren't "brighter" than others. There are severe inequalities that keep the class system we have in place firmly there.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 23rd, 2014 8:21 AM

Two articles to inform the decisions being made. The first on how greater costs will mean less employment and the second how G reduces employment and increase consumer costs.


Posted: June 23rd, 2014 1:46 AM

I don't want taxes any higher, hate wasteful spending, and think subsidies should be used only for those most in need. IMO, raising wages allows for indiv. to earn what they need rather than needing assistance. I invest in RE, but for many years properties are either overpriced in areas w/ good incomes, or don't have income base needed in low income areas. That's why dev. ask for $$. Imagine the local impact if the Austin community could earn more. For me, it would be good for business.


Posted: June 23rd, 2014 1:34 AM

I don't think OP by itself will solve income issues, but I am glad the board is taking up the question. The ord. has not yet been written, so I can't comment on scope or who would be impacted; it looks to address gov contracts not private companies. I think OP can handle the issue & in some way contribute to the national dialog to incr wages. I have been self emp. my entire adult life, worked thru hs/college. One common thread for any job was to have customers w/$$$. Better wages do that.

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 22nd, 2014 10:10 PM

I have it on good authority that the Congress is eagerly awaiting any resolution the village board may pass, with the intent of fast-tracking it into law. You people crack me up!

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: June 22nd, 2014 9:56 PM

While $15 should be the minimum wage, it should be the minimum wage nationally. It is foolhardy indeed for a suburb like Oak Park to establish a $15 minimum wage while all around it have a minimum wage far below that. I hope the village board will come to its senses and reject this effort while adopting a resolution urging Congress to set the national minimum wage at $15. Beware the unintended consequences of going it alone.

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 22nd, 2014 12:38 PM

The US offers countless opportunities to be successful, a concept not lost on immigrants from all over the world. If an individual is unable to secure a job that pays a living wage, that's a problem that can only be solved at the individual level. Government intervention simply cannot solve everyone's problems at the individual level. It's not up to the government to make you more employable, or to negotiate your wages. Even supposedly socialist countries are giving up on that.


Posted: June 22nd, 2014 12:08 PM

Anyone with business background knows artifically raising rates without productivity gains will result in either gaming of system or less quantity demanded. While this is harsh news to those who are at bottom of value chain, it should serve as stark reminder that our children must get the very best education possible and be prepared to work hard. I do believe this movement will gain stem but also think there will be big business puch back (discreetly of course) ..


Posted: June 22nd, 2014 11:50 AM

@ phil - it is not about a dollar or two. IT is a philosohical belief that replicans /free market/tee baggers have that says pull your self up by your bootstraps.. but as I often tell them what if you dont have any? I have served as top 10 executive in multibillion company - companies do not care about what we want - they only care about what they want -- and will pay for...


Posted: June 22nd, 2014 11:46 AM

@ phil. In case you missed the news over last decade, there is a huge shift in which the middle class is eroding and the poor are falling further behind. Call it corporate /personal greed, internationalization, falling productivity (meaning was dont grow) etc. Bottom line is if you are low wage - best plan is to improve your value prop. business are still strapped and cant afford to pay more..


Posted: June 22nd, 2014 11:29 AM

What's happened to this country? We're talking about a decent wage for taking a human being's time here. If the MW had kept up with inflation and productivity, we'd be talking about a rate of over $20/hr. The current proposal isn't going to make anyone even remotely rich, but there's plenty of evidence to suggest that our economy would be far better off. History has shown there will be minimal job loss along w/ substantial econ stimulus. Seems like a win win to me.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 22nd, 2014 7:39 AM

@bob. Very simply put based upon experience the "enemy" of small business is Government. Also MCDs as already started dealing with higher's called technology. Kiosk ordering, smart phone ordering and yes event robot fry makers are coming. All reducing workers. There is no way low margin food businesses can absorb more costs without significant price increase causing no one to gain. Better skills lifts you out of poverty not better wages.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 11:56 PM

Mr. Simpson's commentaries, while bizarre, do provide an opportunity for the people of Oak Park to understand the Living Wage Campaigns that have been run by unions, ACORN, and radical zealots for the last twenty-five years. To date, the organizations have passed Living Wage Ordinances in less than 100 communities. That is a very, very slow rate when a country has more than 25,000 communities. Assuming the goal is to provide living wage opportunities to all Americans, the current campaign approach would take over 6,000 years. In real life, we have to recognize that even perfect solutions have to be accomplishable in a reasonable amount of time.


Posted: June 21st, 2014 9:51 PM

@Bob Simson - Wow, just Wow!?! Small biz owners need to "sit down" with you and friends "and begin working out a strategy..."? Could you help this "slow" MBA and please provide the outline for your "strategy"? May I again propose that you and your SEIU buddies either rent out or purchase some commercial space in OP (Comp Foot location is about to be vacated!) and start using that "strategy to make the transition to higher wage economy....." by yourselves? Use union pension money to fund it!!!

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 8:57 PM

Nobody said capitalism is easy. Small business owners would be wise to sit down with low wage worker advocacy groups and begin working out a strategy to make the transition to a higher wage economy as smooth as possible. My sense is that change is coming--- like it or not. The big corporations like McDonalds or Walmart can easily absorb a major wage increase. Over time, a more prosperous working class can pump more money into small businesses and help them thrive. Perhaps tax breaks for small business during a transition period might be a solution. These could be paid for by increasing taxes on the large corporations who are already over subsidized as it is. Maybe there is a better solution. I don't know, but small businesses really need to work with low wage worker advocates instead of against them. The enemy of small business is not the living wage. It's the rapacity.and ruthlessness of mega-corporations whose enormous wealth is being used as a weapon against workers, small business and democracy itself.

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 5:23 PM

Realist continues to assert that the only reason children in low-income communities don't succeed academically is that their schools are substandard. This is only partially true. If you're a kid in a low-income community, your parents are likely lower achievers. You yourself are unlikely to be genetically equipped to excel academically. The harsh truth is, some people are brighter than others. Low-income communities tend not to be packed with our nation's brightest citizens.

Brian Slowiak from Westchester  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 4:03 PM

Is it possible that Village President Anan was side stepped because he owns and operates a business in Oak Park?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 1:47 PM

INFO FOR WEDNESDAY JOURNAL - The article reported that the "Majority" version of the Living Wage Report had $13.85 per hour as the Living Wage Salary Rate for eligible employees. The Living Wage Salary Rate submitted in the "Majority" Report is $11.50 per hour. The "Minority" version of the Living Wage Report did not contain a suggested hourly wage as the data to determine the number of eligible employees was not made available from the village.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 12:13 PM

Bridgett- Your assessment is on the mark. Using the two board member(s) technique to get an item on the agenda is unusual. Normally the board members would just ask the president to put an item on the agenda and that's it. The odd approach hints at a disagreement with Anan. His statement that he would talk to the business community is also a hint. It is also a bit naive. The business community is already aware of the board's action. Check the posts.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 8:29 AM

You want to achieve things for the poor?require more access and a less corrupt Section 8 housing program?have a sliding scale in determining welfare benefits?require food stamp usage on sustenance products only?get JP Morgan out of the oil trading business and manipulating it through distribution companies. Your target should not be the business that pays taxes and wages it should be the G who fails all of us too often.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 8:28 AM

There are always groups on the edge. However your group fights for the thing that makes things worse for all. Once wage increases work through the system shortly thereafter prices rise and the buying power of the people you "helped" goes nowhere. However the prices in the economy go up for everyone creating a viscous cycle. We get activity but not achievement

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 8:27 AM

@bob "Edge of Disaster?" Every other Friday I meet a payroll for 250 people. Since 2006 when min wage went up I have been on the edge of disaster most payrolls. However there are no strikes calling for more spending in restaurant?no legislation to guarantee customer traffic?no protection against polar vortexs and closing for days?no guarantee that every day is sunny and pleasant to make use of a patio?no guarantee beef prices do not go up 25% in a year. You get my point?

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 7:29 AM

When OP said that top execs make decisions based on economics and don't care about us and our families he or she is quite correct. Generally they must be forced to pay higher wages and provide better benefits. That is why we in the labor movement use strikes, boycotts, public shaming, protests, civil disobedience, lobbying, referenda and legislation to achieve our goals. Those are our tools in the capitalist marketplace. Low wage workers are at a disadvantage because they can be easily replaced in our high unemployment economy with its racial and gender caste system. So these "lazy", "unskilled" and "uneducated" individuals must work very hard and be very skillful at using the tools of the labor movement while educating themselves about the socio-economic issues involved. Even then, there is no guarantee of success, so a great deal of courage is also required. People living with poverty are always right on the edge of disaster, especially if they have families.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 5:31 PM

@This Is Awesome, Any two Trustees can put something on the agenda, while just the President can put something on the agenda. For this particular item, it was Trustee Lueck and Trustee Salzman who asked for this item to be placed on the agenda for discussion (and just discussion, not a vote).

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 5:20 PM

However what puzzles me Realistic is how come there are efforts to raise wages for some people but nothing about reducing costs for all. Read about commodity manipulation by big banks that have us paying 30% more for gas...BTW breaking the law. How about farm subsidies raising food prices 25% and going 7 to 1 large Corp farmers. Imagine lowering the cost of living 10% and how that helps EVERYONE directly. G should not be about helping "groups" but all.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 5:11 PM

@Realistic...please explain people like my Father who's mom died at 12, dad was a drunk and grew up in a rough area of Chicago to become a Dr? How about my Grandfather who's single mom worked 3 jobs so he could go to college and own his own business? What about my Aunt that worked a lunch counter for 40 years so that Xmass and vacations where a little better and her girls could go to NWU. All of these stories have people who overcame and saw to it their was a better world for their kids.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 5:10 PM

So, realistic, your argument against pricing entry level job at a level that low skilled workers can come in, develop skills, and further themselves in life is that these folks are unskilled, will stay unskilled, and will never have anything but a minimum wage. Businesses have have to pay every worker enough to support a family because they can barely read. Not seeing that argument holding economic or human sense. Pitiful condescension is not a solution.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 4:51 PM

Tom Broderick - the five people that spoke in favor of a living wage ordinance were Bob Simpson, Tom Broderick, Ron Baiman, and his mother (name not clearly stated.)


Posted: June 20th, 2014 4:23 PM

Additionally, there is no difference between the casino workers stories and other low-wage earners. The point is that when you're not making a living wage, you can't afford things like primary care so you end up utilizing ER's for your health care or basic transportation so you can reliably get to and from work, or healthy food for your family. It's good for all aspects of the economy when people can afford the basic necessities of life.


Posted: June 20th, 2014 4:17 PM

How do you become a bartender, go to college and subsequently law school if you can't read or have basic math skills because the school you went to was overcrowded, threatened by community violence, had unprepared teachers, and your parents were never home because they were working two jobs just to pay the rent?


Posted: June 20th, 2014 4:16 PM

People always love pointing our stories of people working their way through college and go on to earn a lot of money. But you're discounting the millions of people that come from low-income families that (as I stated before) don't even have a reasonable level of literacy because their parents are not making a living wage and therefore cannot afford to live in an area that has great schools.


Posted: June 20th, 2014 3:45 PM

Realistic, how about comparisons that are apples-to-apples v. apples-to-oranges? 1. There is a difference between a union bargaining with a casino and what is being proposed here. When Oak Park gets a casino, please let me know. 2. The study references (undefined) "large U.S. cities." SF, Chicago, Cleveland, San Antonio are mentioned. Oak Park is not a "large U.S. city" with a business community (or tax base) remotely comparable to those "large U.S. cities."

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 3:40 PM

Secondly your link showing improved lives can be shown in multiple ways. For example I just attended a Law School Graduation for a Bartender I employed for 8 years. This person worked full-time, part-time or whatever he needed to make some money and pass the bar. He just emailed me that he got a job for $115K! If I took the time I could also create a one-sided flyer with people hugging on "isn't more money better!" after using my business to get ahead

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 3:39 PM

@realistic First let's deal with basic math more fully. The restaurant example below with 24FTE and an average wage of$9.75 means a worker earns $15,250 annually and creates $4850 in profits. Again those numbers are averages not actual workers. Also note that in the food service business tips are underreported to G by 50%. So real take-home is higher than reported. The productivity results from DOL prove this out as well. So a worker makes more from his labor than the business.


Posted: June 20th, 2014 2:50 PM

Here are real life stories: And here is the evidence:


Posted: June 20th, 2014 2:50 PM

From your article: "This means that an unskilled youth who produces $4.00 worth of goods in an hour will have a very difficult time finding a job if he must, by law, be paid $5.15 an hour." This is assuming that low wage jobs don't produce more than they earn which usually is blatantly false?"particularly in service and retail sector jobs. Yes, some job loss happens when the min wage goes up but it's still a net win for increased number of people earning a living wage.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 2:32 PM

That's a very good article BGS. thanks for posting!

BGS from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 2:01 PM

Reading the comments exchanged reveals a substantial gulf. Not just polarized opinions, but also in basic understanding of this complex issue. Passion (and compassion) is a worthy trait, but no substitute for historic data from multiple sources. I have no agenda, either liberal or conservative, but found the article below to provide good insight. Any opinion to the contrary, should respond with their own sources to keep this dialogue moving.

This is awesome  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 1:37 PM

We get the racism & the Joe McCarthy cards played by the Socialists while getting 0 substantive response to the econ. arguments. The Village Board is really listening to these people? Trustee Salzman should apologize for wasting time on this. Very disappointed in Prez Abu-Taleb. Instead of reaching out to the business community, how about thinking of the taxpayers who are going to have to fund this folly? Didn't we just overpay for ComEd thanks to village incompetence?

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 1:00 PM

To be fair, Bridgett, if we held decision making in village government to the same standards as the private sector, every village department would close in days.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 12:46 PM's okay to want to pass an ordinance which would use tax payer money (since this would cover only Village employees and Village subcontractors) for something that is not sustainable in the private sector. Seriously? C'mon.

Friar Tuck from OP   

Posted: June 20th, 2014 11:24 AM

Thanks, Mr Broderick for helping make my point. This is largely symbolism over substance, and a complete waste of the VOP boards time.

Tom Broderick  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 11:08 AM

You can't out the out! An expression popularized by the Gay Liberation Front. Not understood by all apparently. John Butch Murtagh states that 5 members of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America were at the Oak Park Village Board meeting when the board declared that it was time to consider a living wage for Oak Park. Shades of tail-gunner Joe McCarthy rattling on about commies in the gummit. Ron Baiman responded to John Butch Murtagh that some are proud of our democratic socialism. Ron and I were both at the board meeting. The two of us began the process a decade ago that finally led to this Village Board to consider a Living Wage Ordinance for our Village. And indeed there were additional democratic socialists at the board meeting. And there are others in Oak Park. We do take pride in our heritage. Democratic Socialsts of America appreciate the work of people like Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington. In Chicago, CDSA has an annual awards banquet bearing their names. So now you know the names of two DSA members who were at the Village Board meeting. John, can you accurately name the additional three (or were there more?!?) DSA members at the Village Board meeting? It should be easy picking, since you can't out the out. And for the record, the proposed Living Wage Ordinance deals with the use of Oak Park tax money. The majority of businesses in Oak Park would not be covered by the ordinance. Our proposed ordinance would cover: employees of the Village of Oak Park; employees of contractors and sub-contractors hired by the Village of Oak Park; employees of any business that receives $50K/year from the Village tax coffers for whatever reason. Most private enterprise w/in the Village would not be covered by the proposed ordinance.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 10:58 AM

I find it funny Bob pulls the racism card when if he actually studied the history of the minimum wage he would know it was largely originally supported by racists to keep blacks who were willing to work for less out of the work force. See Davis-Beacon Act of 1931. Ironically, it has the same effect today by significantly hurting black teen employment.

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 10:28 AM

To Literacy - That literacy rates are lower in low-income communities is not just a reflection on the quality of the schools. Intelligent, high-achieving people don't remain low income. Those who remain in low-income communities are not the winners of nature's genetic lottery. Neither are their kids. Every generation, the smarter kids leave. Who's left behind to reproduce and fill the schools? Any school full of low-functioning kids is going to look like a bad school.


Posted: June 20th, 2014 10:07 AM

To apply a local and current "example" - Competitive Foot paid $48,000 in prop taxes last year. I have no idea what they paid in rent, insurance, utilities, personnel etc., but these are fixed costs before one shoe or sock has been sold (and they ain't free). I strongly suggest that Mr. Baiman, SEIU, and supporters put a new business in that location and THEN make their demands on how VOP, etc should determine pay levels for others. BTW, I am amazed that CF could stay in business this long!

CPA from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 9:37 AM

Mr. Middle has it right. Mr. Baiman might be a professor of economics, but apparently it has been a long time since he taught Micro-Economics, or he would know that the wage should equal the marginal revenue product (on average what each employee contributes hourly toward revenues). The individual needs of the employees, the fact that they might be able to buy more, is irrelevant to an employer. Maybe the government could pay Underemployment Benefits for people who make less than the LW. :)


Posted: June 20th, 2014 9:35 AM

how to do ever go to college if you can't even read above a third grade level?


Posted: June 20th, 2014 9:35 AM

"The reality is if you have a child, make sure you get them the best education possible" The problem with this statement is that if you are not making a living wage, you cannot afford to live in an area with good schools. Since funding for schools is mainly based on property taxes, there is more investment in schools in more affluent areas. So it's a cycle that is not easy to be broken. Literacy levels are MUCH lower in low-income areas

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 8:44 AM

$5 increase means 12.5% increase. People eat out less when prices go up 12% so that means less work and less workers. Lastly since 1987 in the food service industry productivity has risen .5% annually and wages have grown 3.6%. Think about that?wages have grown 7 times faster than profits in the food-service industry. Can that continue?

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 8:43 AM

That place makes 8% before taxes and debt repayment and employees 24FTE . That works out to $4800 per FTE before taxes. FTE is a new metric with the ACA that calculates all hours divided by 30 hours. So that number includes more than 24 workers; some are part time some are above the 30 hour mark. So if you raise the minimum wage $1 an hour it impacts this restaurant by $1560 per FTE or reduces profits 32%. So this restaurants needs to raise price 2.5% to absorb a $1 increase.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: June 20th, 2014 8:42 AM

@Bob for reference on an important context of profits per employee. To note McDs makes $18K and Wallmart $13K per employee. Wallmarts average worker makes double the profits they generate McDs about 60% more. Math matters and as a 30 year veteran of the restaurant industry this is a matter I am well versed in. I will give an example of an ave neighborhood place. Its sales are $1.5M and the owner takes $50K.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 10:34 PM

To - Friar Tuck and JIm from South, I don't have much union politics experience, but the post on the manipulation of government motivations reminded me of some analysis that was done in 2009. The info below was sent to OP village boards in 2009 and 2013. "The Community Relations Commission determined in its minority report (11-09) that almost 40% of CYV's (City, Towns, and Villages) with poverty rates exceeding 13% did not have Living Wage Ordinances. Cities with poverty rates exceeding 20% unemployment and no living wage ordinances included Newark, NJ, New Orleans La, Atlanta Ga, Birmingham Al, and Fresno Ca. Living Wage Ordinances were organized by multiple organizations including unions and Acorn (a national non-profit organizer. The contents of ordinance were independently written by local proponents and legislators. Legal challenges were abundant. Politics were a major problem in creating common ordinances and getting approval from diverse and variable constituencies. The pace of campaign organizing and government approvals was agonizing. From 1988 to 2009, in a country with 25,000 CVT's, an average of only five new CVT ordinances was approved per year. The lack of quality leadership, common goals, and bad business processes doomed the Living Wage Ordinance and moved the country's focus to higher minimum wage levels."

RF Dan  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 10:24 PM

Bob - you lose your street cred when you make no effort to refute the economic impact of a $15 LW on the workers who lose there jobs as a result of it. Do you really believe LW will just impact the profits of greedy corporations (who we all are owners of)? You need to retake economics 101.

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 8:53 PM

I think some of the commenters seriously underestimate the intelligence, experience and education levels of people in the low wage workers movement. Companies like McDonalds spend millions to counter the strikes and protests that these "lazy" "uneducated" and "unskilled" people have been conducting. As a result of groups like Fight for $15, wealth inequality and raising the minimum wage is now a national issue. These workers are playing hardball capitalism and doing pretty well so far, hurting the brands of some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet to pressure concessions, something that even McDonalds has admitted. They have achieved significant popular support in the working class communities where they are active.They can point to successful campaigns across the nation in raising the minimum wage. And please don't think it will stop there. They have issues over healthcare, sick leave, vacation time, discrimination and scheduling that are on the agenda. I will end with the words spoken by Chicago McDonalds worker and Fight for $15 member Jessica Davis during the recent one day international action against McDonalds' expoitative labor policies: "Just months ago we were just a few workers in a couple of cities. They thought we were crazy. Now we're global. We're 100+ cities and 30 countries. We are showing McDonalds that we are a force and they can't ignore us any more."

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 8:24 PM

For the record I spoke before the Village Board on my own initiative without discussing this with either Action Now or SEIU. In fact, I wouldn't even know who to talk to at SEIU. The leadership of Action Now was quite pleased however, and I am proud to be a member of that organization. So much for highly speculative conspiracy theories.

Jim from South Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 6:47 PM

Friar Tuck nailed it. SEIU is behind this; they can't beat Walmart so they create an "action council" to beat on politicians. Good tactic. OP leans enough left that SEIU gets locals involved, making it look like a local issue. Then, it's stampede the board by dangling "OP exceptionalism;" tell them they're out front on a national issue. They "sell" OP and use it to leverage places like Chicago that see a negative impact on finances, business, SEIU gets politicians to do the work for them.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 6:44 PM

the quiet truth is there are many firms that wont even talk to people who dont go to top 100 schools - recall that when were born the US had 167 MM (1964), today it is 330MM and in 20 years half a billion in US ALone - our kids face a very competitive world...


Posted: June 19th, 2014 6:40 PM

you are right - evan at Julian, kids get straight A's and cant problem solve/form cohesive sentence. For me, education is about critical thinking, people skills and academics. We live in a world that values labels/brand. I went to top school and can assure you that I know people with ju co degrees who are smarter.. but firms pay for brand. They see good schools as screening tools. For those who are ultra talented (not me ;-)) it wont matter ... but that label opended doors/relationahips

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 6:21 PM

@OP, But what do you mean by "education?" We are educating our kids for jobs that won't exist when they graduate. I am not sold on the idea of strapping my kids with an insane about of debt for what the "top" universities can offer.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 6:14 PM

As someone who has been in the meeting with top execs and BOD, I can tell you they will make decision based upon economics not hear strings. They do not care about me/you or our families. - they care about results and the reality is if you are making $10.00 there is only so much value you are delivering. The business world gives a rats ass what we want - they only pay when they get what they want. So add more value, get more pay. Simple equation.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 6:10 PM

The other trend is internationalization - go to any TOP 200 Univeristy and half class is international. Our kids /us know compete with workers across the globe ... which means we need to demonstrate value to earn a living - the other is browning of America as more of us are now penetrating glass ceiling... all this means you best be on your game or you will be left ASS out.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 6:07 PM

There is a huge shift occuring in whice education in human capital is the best return and solid middle class families fall into working poor. We will increasingly divide/define ourselves by class/income strata vs. race. The reality is if you have a child, make sure you get them the best education possible. With that, hard work, a little luck they should be able to have a decent life. If not, you are likely dooming your child to life of poverty. Sorry to be so harsh..

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 6:01 PM

I think that Bob Simpson's comment, "I wonder how much racism contributes to the contempt for low wage workers that is expressed on this comment thread," is a violation of the Wednesday Journal Comment Policy that states: Knowingly posting information that a reader knows to be in incorrect is not permitted. Shouldn't the comment be removed?

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 5:55 PM

When people go on strike against McDonalds or Walmart they are literally in a fight for life. But poverty doesn't always kill in a hail of bullets in a community where homicides among young people are a leading cause of death. Sometimes poverty kills slowly as stress and worry wears down a person's immune system, inviting multiple health problems that overwhelm the body and our inadequate public health system. Infant mortality, one of the best indicators of the public health of a nation is much higher in poverty areas. The infant mortality rate in Austin from 2005 -2009 was 13.3 per thousand according to Chicago City statistics. Using statistics from the World Bank, if Austin were a nation, it would rank 73rd in the the world, behind many nations in the Global South. The USA as whole came in at about 37th. The combination of poverty and racism has deadly consequences.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 5:36 PM

Most of the people who are in favor of this don't run a business or have any bottom line responsbility.. Cant just pick a wage - you need to understand impact on business model. Also, what about all the people who work their ass off to increase thier value/pay? Just because there are systemic issues (which will result in same issues in 5 years), does not mean this will solve it. People without skills/education are becoming irrelevant in the information age - harsh but real.

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 5:36 PM

Ridiculous, Bob. Those young people were not killed because the minimum wage is too low. If raising the minimum wage would end homicide forever, we'd all be in favor of it.

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 5:31 PM

Last Friday I stood before the steps of the St. Sabina Church at 78th and Racine in South Side Chicago. I listened while several individuals read the names of the 105 Chicago young people who were shot to death this school year of 2013-2014. The individuals who read those names were parents of some of the young men and women who had been felled by gunfire. The Fight for $15 Campaign put out a map last year that showed where homicides were concentrated. They were all in communities with high levels of poverty. One of those neighborhoods was Austin, which is located just a few minutes walk from I am standing now. ??The Fight for $15 workers want you to know that poverty kills. And poverty wages contribute to those deaths.

WTF from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 5:17 PM

Enough with the everyone's a winner mentality. If someone's expertise is worth $10, $8, $3... an hour that's what they should get. Nothing personal, just what the market suggests. Mandating a false "living wage" is absolutely no incentive to do something better with an individual's live but to continue surfing on the government dole. Have you seen how many OP businesses have closed and have listed seemingly legit reasons, but who knows what the real deal is.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 5:16 PM

@Ridiculous, We are talking about a living wage. A wage is given to someone who works, meaning that they have the ability to work. So that is why clarity is needed as to what we are talking about. Using your percentages, that mean we are talking about the other 25%.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 5:13 PM

Mr Baiman - The article you suggest we all read was written in June 2002. The world for most people has changed a lot in 12 years including the bankruptcy of ACORN, a massive recession, and the most dynamic change in global economics since the 1930's.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 5:02 PM

Please explain what is the difference between public assistance and public benefits? Are you excluding benefits to seniors in one? That's what this sounds like to me. I hate to tell you but they are the same.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 4:53 PM

The talk was public assistance and Ridiculous uses the term "public benefits". Are you lumping SS benefits that seniors earned as part of your 75% number? That's not part of the argument here and makes me wonder why you can't use germane info to win your argument

Freakin' Hilarious  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 4:49 PM

Is there a racism corollary to Godwin's Law? Because Mr. Simpson just played the racism card. Pretty sad that the Village Board even pays attention to guys like him who would rather lose jobs to technology or overseas.

Brian Slowiak from Westchester  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 4:34 PM

I will ask again. What is the wage scale for base line employees at Action Now and SEIU?


Posted: June 19th, 2014 4:28 PM

Two articles that describe this situation:


Posted: June 19th, 2014 4:27 PM

That's nice that your anecdote of one person supports that view. But let's talk about the reality of the majority of the population. Almost 75% of the population receiving public benefits are elderly or people with disabilities. So even those working represent a small percentage of the total. Most of those people are full-time employees that still are making such a pittance, that they qualify for public benefits.

Friar Tuck from OP  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 4:07 PM

Ah, SEIU is involved in Action Now....that explains things. Therefore the reality is that this whole thing is nothing more than a money grab by union bosses....period. It just is couched by the feel good talking points of the useful idiots.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 4:07 PM

@Ridiculous...Well...I guess it depends. I personally know someone, lives in Oak Park, who makes $15/hr, and chooses to only work enough to supplement what he can't get for free (food pantry, LINK, etc.). So while does he work, he only works 20- 25 hours a week. Must be nice.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 3:41 PM

Should those people be forced to "work" in exchange for that assistance?


Posted: June 19th, 2014 3:40 PM

Speaking as someone that has working for the public sector and in non-profit for a long time, I can assure you that this "large percent" of people that won't work regardless of the pay, is less than 1%. Living on public assistance is horrible. It's not easy to attain, it doesn't cover the true costs of living, and it's humiliating to most people. Additionally, the vast majority of people on any kind of public assistance are seniors and people with disabilities. Should those people be forced to "

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 3:03 PM

Bob - enough with using the concept of racism in your comments. There are enough white people in the same predicament as any other race. And I would be willing to bet that there are a good percentage of AA and other "minorities" that pay into the system that are tired of providing for others also. And that goes for the local and state level as well as federal.

RF Dan  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 3:02 PM

Not racist Bob, simple economics. I work for a company that starts blue collar workers at minimum, after three months benefits and over time fair pay increases if warranted. At $15/Hr we cannot compete and the 100+ starting min wage jobs move with some higher salary jobs to one of our plants outside Illinois or to a competitor in Asia. That would not help are largely Hispanic work force

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 2:58 PM

muntz - agree with you 100%. I would think that there would be a decrease in those needing these services also. But you know as well as I do that isn't reality. There is an extremely large percentage of those getting these services that won't work for any wage. That is why I am a strong believer in those getting assistance needing to do something or setting a limit in the government sector to "pay back". You can imagine how much more messed up gov't would be if that was a requirement.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 2:56 PM

@Bob-Any thoughts on the LWO impact on the consumption of public assistance? Can Action Now quantify this? Logic would dictate this should decrease, but no one supporting LWO has come forth and stated as such. Unless the numbers say otherwise.

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 2:42 PM

The majority of Action Now and Fight for $15 members are African American and Latino. I wonder how much racism contributes to the contempt for low wage workers that is expressed on this comment thread.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 2:24 PM

@Done-I thought part of the reason for a living wage was to ween folks off of public assistance? If you still need Sec 8, food stamps, etc after a living wage increase, is it truly a living wage? I would think, at the very least, that consumption of these services for those making the new min wage would significantly decrease or be removed. Tax revenues increase due to higher wages taxed while expenditures decrease due to less govt assistance. I would think the LWO folks would trumpet this.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 1:53 PM

Sure, let's make the LWO $15/hour and let's make it for the whole state. And in five years let's take a look at how many people are still on LINK, Section 8 housing, and all other types of gubment handouts and I'd be surprised if the numbers change much. $8.75/hr or $15/hr - there is a percentage of the population that won't work at any wage. We will continue to assist them and therein lies the crux of a portion of our society. Along with the LWO, public policy needs to have limits.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 1:32 PM

Bob, what is ironic is that poor education, low wages, violence, unaffordable housing, and out of wedlock births (hence child care needs) are all hallmarks of the unintended consequences of the liberal social policies that have been pushed over the past 50 years. You guys are like a dog chasing your own tail and will never catch up to why the issues you hold so dear never seem to go away despite all the money and kumbaya you throw at them.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 1:25 PM

Action Now...simply an organized group of thieves. You earn it, and they feel entitled to take it.

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 12:58 PM

For the record Action Now is a community based organization with branches on the South and West Sides of Chicago. We are currently involved in several campaigns centering around education, living wage jobs, violence prevention, affordable housing and child care. Action Now has a small paid staff and a larger number of volunteer members who pay dues. We also receive support from the Service Employees International Union. I was asked to join the West Side branch several months ago and have been an active member ever since.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 11:44 AM

Muntz, Because apparently you do not invest your capital in job creating businesses, pay taxes or consume goods. Everyone providing the "living wage" are mattress stuffing Scrooges preventing. Our dollar should be confiscated from our business and given to someone else, because then they'll buy something from us, yielding a super squeezed margin of pennies, and then we should thank AN for it!


Posted: June 19th, 2014 11:35 AM

How about the "trickle up" effect for us wretched middle class folks? When the guy making $7 now makes $14, what will the $14/hr guy subsequently demand? Does he now get $30/hr in the new world order? $30/hr now $45/hr? And so on. How much do you bet it stops at the allegedly well-off white collar middle class salary folks that will pay more for running said business or consuming the products/services provided but will see no corresponding wage increase themselves. Equality indeed.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 11:25 AM

You sound as though this has never been done. Lots of organizations have already done this. Sometimes it just means that instead of profiting $6 billion dollars, you profit $4 billion dollars (referencing large companies obviously because typically living wage policies exclude small companies). The largest and most famous example being CostCo.

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 10:45 AM

Reality - I believe that Brian is suggesting that Action Now actually create a retail or service business that provides living-wage jobs to employees with minimal job skills. If they can find a way to do this and survive in a competitive market, they'll speak with a lot more credibility.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 10:40 AM

Action Now is most certainly NOT a non-profit. They have no 501(c)(3) designation, donations are not tax deductible and they have no fillings on view to the public.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 10:27 AM

They're not a for-profit but they have employees. My guess is they pay them a living wage.

Brian Slowiak from Westchester  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 10:18 AM

A sees B needs help, A gets C to help B. Why doesn't Action Now open a business, any business, and pay their employees a Living Wage? It would be the supreme test, thrive or die.

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 10:04 AM

Just a quick reminder: Low wage workers feed, clothe and clean up after us. Much of the food we eat is grown and processed by low wage workers. Most of the clothes we wear are constructed and sold to us by low wage workers. A lot of janitorial and clean up work is done by low wage workers. They deserve more respect than they are getting from some of the people on this comment thread.

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 9:58 AM

Tough to spend the money from a job you lost, though.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 9:48 AM

It's only the rich that hoard their money and avoid paying taxes as much as possible so when they get more money, we don't see it injected into the economy.


Posted: June 19th, 2014 9:48 AM

Whenever people state that they worry about further increasing the debt through increasing minimum wage, I wonder why they seem to forget that when people make a living wage, that money goes straight back into the economy. More people are able to buy property so there are more property taxes collected, they purchase more goods so more sales tax, there's more payroll and income tax.

OP Transplant  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 9:27 AM

Only the least valued and most easily replaced employees are receiving minimum wage. Forcing employers to pay them at a rate that is higher than their value to the company actually incentivizes employers to get rid of these positions, through automation, consolidation, and outsourcing. This may bring glory to the "proud democratic socialists", but I suspect most of them make more than minimum wage, so their jobs will likely remain safe.

Ron Baiman  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 9:10 AM

Many (but not all) Oak Park Living Wage Coalition members are proud democratic socialists. We believe that "democracy" should include, rather than exclude, the economy. Village staff estimates of the impacts of a LW Ordinance on the Village budget have been minimal. For other impact reports see for example this report on Chicago's living wage:

CPA Jeff from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 8:48 AM

I saw the earlier comments and a reference to children. As a father, I worry greatly that our children will be inheriting a country that is increasingly in debt, at both the local, state and Federal level. If we really want to do something for the kids, let's real about spending. LW will only make matters worse.

Jeff from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 8:41 AM

I presume that the Living Wage Folks would also include organizations that receive government grants from the Village and taxpayer monies. Like the Summer Arts Program of OPAAC, or the various Park District camps, where teens are hired?

Small Business Owner from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2014 8:39 AM

Ron Baiman, the same guy who wanted to ban wireless in our schools a few years back, is back again with a newer, higher living wage. We presently have four high school and college age children who are working this summer and earning minimum wage in various jobs, including a taxpayer funded program for developmentally disabled children. Over 50% of all minimum wage workers live in multi-income families. Do you want to killing the summer job business for our students?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 11:40 PM

I will think about a Letter to the Editor, but my home is WJ Comments. Replies on WJC are quicker, sharper, and more fun!

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 11:12 PM

John, This should a Letter to the Editor. Too funny. :-)

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 10:19 PM

At Monday's board meeting, five members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (CDSA) asked the board members to pass a Living Wage Ordinance. It was not the organization's first time, they also tried in 2008. The board members present enthusiastically supported the LW and even tried to accelerate the vote. It sounds like a done deal. The village now has three big social issues to face this year, the LW and two advisory referendums approved at the April 8, 2014 Annual Town Meeting of Oak Park Township. Both advisory referendums were sponsored by CDSA. The first would declare Oak Park a TPP-Free Zone (Trans-Pacific Partnership-Free Zone.) The referendum would read "Shall the voters of Oak Park reject the secretly negotiated rules laid down without our consent and call upon the Village Board of Oak Park, IL to enact an ordinance declaring the Village of Oak Park, IL to be a Trans-Pacific Partnership-Free Zone?" The second, "Shall the Federal Government enact legislation requiring universal background checks of criminal and mental health history records for all transfers of ownership or possession of firearms, including transfers which occur at gun shows, over the internet and privately, as a step toward preventing the ownership or possession of firearms by criminals and those with serious mental illnesses, and as a step toward preventing gun trafficking altogether?" While I like most everyone in Oak Park think the village is exceptional, pushing for gun control, the elimination of poverty, and a seat at financial centers of the world should not be taken on until the village figures out how to handle parking.

Just asking  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 9:40 PM

Did Pete's Market back out yet? Or will it be exempted from this debacle?

Dan in Oak Park  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 8:22 PM

Here we go again. You can make the LW amount whatever you want, but you can't make jobs that will pay it.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 6:52 PM

agreed, if this was a binding ordinance it wouldn't do any good. Availability of entry level jobs would decrease and wages would remain stagnant as prices increase because employers will be paying significantly more for labor. not to mention any benefits folks might have been receiving would disappear. As a result, oak park would become even less attractive to businesses looking to set up shop. People with the best of intentions would run this village into the ground if they had the chance.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 6:15 PM

Bob, so you've made the straight line from $14/hour to elimination of poverty? Despite the fact that the loss of entry level jobs will prevent individuals from getting a foot on the ladder out of poverty? Despite the fact that our welfare and tax codes result in lower net family income (wage + transfers) at that level? Despite the fact that you are, well, wrong. The living wage will do NOTHING to combat poverty, just allay your guilt while making things worse for folks at the margin.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 5:07 PM

Bob, can you explain why we don't just raise the minimum wage to say $30/hr? $50/hr? If we can simply just dictate market wages to eliminate poverty, why pussyfoot around with $15/hr? Why not make everyone part of the 1%?

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 4:31 PM

Poverty can kill. Homicide in the Chicago region is mostly concentrated in high poverty communities. Poverty can also lead to serious life threatening health issues. Poverty wages contribute to that reality. Poverty is damaging in many other ways as well. Groups like Fight for $15, Our Walmart and Action Now are already mobilized to fight poverty wages. Lets join them in this battle against what former Labor Secretary Robert Reich calls, "The civil rights struggle of our time."

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 12:27 PM

I read the agenda commentary, and started reading the attached documents and I watched the meeting. And I really don't get it. First, this would only cover Village employees and subcontractors. So it's not very wide in scope. Second, would this be a binding ordinance or a guideline? They say Chicago has a living wage. But doing some research, it doesn't seem that it's binding. Minimum wage is binding. So I guess all of this is a symbolic gesture? What exactly is the *achievable* goal here?

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 11:26 AM

@OP Res 253. Everything liberals do is for the children. So yeah, $32k is a lot, but hey, its for the children.

op Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 11:04 AM

Every teenager working at the Park District would get the equivalent of $32k/year for being a camp helper, pool watcher, Popsicle passer? That makes sense to people? I guess we can just tax folks more, make it so no one on the margin can afford to living in Oak Park, regardless of $7 or $15/hour. Pile it on so only the wealthy can live here.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 10:53 AM

If we decide we can afford raising the minimum wage by $7 can we afford to give every level of the wage scale the same $7 bump? After all it would only be fair to those who worked their butts off to get out of minimum wage by hard work and adding value to their employer.


Posted: June 18th, 2014 10:31 AM

Can supporters show what the additional cost will be to the village vs what is paid today? Are these positions pension eligible and, if so, what's the added pension liability? If not, are we taking the additional 6.2% employer portion of SS into account? What additional cuts or savings are being proposed to balance the resulting budget? Shouldn't the full financial impact be vetted first?


Posted: June 18th, 2014 10:14 AM

If the state wants to pass a LWO I'm fine with that. Not OP by itself. We have enough trouble attracting business to our community!


Posted: June 18th, 2014 10:03 AM

To bad we don't have a Walmart to vilify. Maybe we could open the coffee shop in the library and pay them $15 an hour? I think its time to get on to the more important issues in the village and pass the ERA amendment!

Friar Tuck from OP  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 8:29 AM

Again, a small band of do-gooders focus on symbolism over substance. The simple fact that 400 (if that's an accurate number) have an LWO doesn't make it right. Why follow stupid? We're OP, we're not supposed to be knee-jerk lemmings. The simple fact is that LWO's hurt the very people their proponents claim they want to help, by limiting job opportunities and stifling economic growth. Focus on what might help the business community create jobs, not on feel good tripe that would kill jobs.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 17th, 2014 11:38 PM

I was there in 2010 and I resent the board making it sound like a bunch of dopes did the LW work. On Monday night, our current board members had a chatty critique of all the things the Community Relaions Commission that were overlooked in 2010. They sighted lack of analysis, no economic information, and seemingly no understanding of geography. One of the supporters of a new LW effort in OP told the board that there are 400 metropolises' with Living Wage. DEAD WRONG. LW metropolises' reached a high point of 120. Really, 400 vs 120 is no big issue when you consider that there are more than 25,000 metropolises in the U.S. LW's failed because they did not help cure poverty. Regarding the CRC's effort, we did not do much analysis because the village would not give us core demographic data on employees in or out of the village. We had no economics because we had no idea of the salaries of the worker ?" again the village refused (letter from village available). The amount of workers that would be eligible for a living wage was never determined. We had no budget at all, and no data support of any kind. No one from the board suggested that outside consultants to relieve our burden. Neither the CRC Majority or Minority report was accepted or changed. The choice was 100% board driven. Why the split? It was a local political standoff. The standoff will occur again.

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