On June 30, a large group of concerned citizens showed up at village hall to support the minimum wage hike for our community. I was among them. That effort was successful, and now workers in our community have a $10 minimum wage, which will progressively increase over time, plus one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked. We were jubilant that low paid workers would be treated more decently in Oak Park. We felt that was consistent with our community values.
Now it’s time for our community to step up for the small businesses of Oak Park. They are at an economic disadvantage compared to many surrounding communities. River Forest, Forest Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, Elmwood Park, and many others opted out of the wage increase. Of the surrounding area, only Berwyn and Chicago stayed in, opting to pay workers a better wage, along with Oak Park.
If we walk our talk, then it’s time for the citizens of Oak Park to commit to supporting our own businesses first. I am committing myself to shopping and wining/dining in Oak Park. If necessary, I will go Berwyn or Chicago.
If at all possible, I will not shop in the other communities. If Oak Park is to thrive, we need our small businesses. It was the right thing to do to give our workers better wage and sick time, but it’s also the right thing to do to support our businesses in our community that have to work at a disadvantage.
And when you do shop in Oak Park, let the merchants know that the higher wages are one of the reasons. I hope I’m not alone in my convictions. For the economic health and welfare of Oak Park, let’s come together on this.