Council Right To Opt-Out Of Crook County Minimum Wage Hike


Kudos to newly-minted 3d Ward Ald. Gail Wilkening for some recent spot-on observations about the City of Park Ridge opting out of Crook County’s graduated minimum wage increase from Illinois’ current $8.25/hour ($1/hour above the federal version) to $13/hour by July 2020.

“The market will decide what we need to pay people,” she opined, adding: “Anything Cook County wants, I usually don’t want.”

“Amen!” to both sentiments.

Don’t get us wrong: A minimum wage is a good thing to the extent it reduces the opportunities for outright worker exploitation, especially of the lower-wage workers whom it tends to affect most strongly. On the other hand, it’s an arbitrary, non-market based number that is much more of a temporary palliative than a cure for the underlying problem of lower wages for lower-skilled (or lower-risk) work.

Notwithstanding some hyperbolic claims by proponents, the minimum wage was not designed to enable the minimum-wage worker to raise a family of four, or to become a homeowner instead of a renter. It was designed to provide a wage above a welfare-level subsistence for the person earning it and perhaps one “dependent” – back in that day, often/usually a stay-at-home wife.

Not surprisingly, considering that this initiative was produced by the head-scratchers comprising the Crook County Board, that $13/hour, 2020 target rate would provide a minimum-wage employee working 40 hours per week for 50 weeks a year with $26,000 – or roughly the poverty threshold for a family of four in today’s dollars, without taking into account any inflation over the next 3 years before that full $13 wage is achieved.

Three nights ago (June 5) the Council voted unanimously in favor of opting out of this latest Crook County attempt at selling activity as achievement. Under City procedures, however, a second vote is needed to pass the opt-out ordinance, which will be taken at the Council’s June 19 meeting.

Although last Monday night’s vote was unanimous, Alds. John Moran (1st) and Marc Mazzuca (6th) explained their votes, in part, by arguing that a minimum wage standard is best left to the state or federal government.

Exactly right.

Crook County’s intrusion into minimum wage policy reminds us of Evanston’s 1985 enactment of an ordinance declaring Evanston a “nuclear-free zone,” ostensibly to prohibit Northwestern University professors from conducting research that might be used in the development of nuclear weapons. The ordinance was unenforceable, but that’s Evanston for you.

Should our City Council complete its opt-out at its June 19th meeting, it will be interesting to see what effect, if any, that will have on Park Ridge’s economy. Given Park Ridge’s borders with Chicago and Des Plaines, one of the suburbs that has chosen not to opt-out of Crook County’s latest sideshow. Will Park Ridge suddenly become a haven for small businesses, or for cheaper goods/services, because of a lower wage for low-end workers?

We doubt it.

But we think the opt-out is a win for folks who are tired of further intrusions from a unit of local government that has been mismanaged for decades and shows no signs of improving.

To read or post comments, click on title.

5 comments so far

I had hopes that Ms. Preckwinkle would be the voice of reason, lately that’s not been the case. What a bunch of nitwits. Let’s just secede from Crook County!

I’ve never met Gail Wilkening but she sounds like the kind of person I’d get along splendidly with, well said! Now if we could only opt out of Cook County or at least Maine Township for starters.

City government has come a long way since those years with mayor Wietecha and councils that bought into every cockamamie idea anybody could think up, like that PADS shelter and donating tax money to certain private charities.It’s good to see this council isn’t falling into that trap with Toni Preckwinkle’s mayoral campaign stunt

Preckwinkle is the same person who wanted Park Ridge to annex Park Ridge Commons so the County wouldn’t have to police it. Toni Preckwinkle’s next good idea will be her first, and she’s just another in the long list of incompetent or corrupt Chicago politicians.

Competition, not the minimum wage, is what forces companies to pay workers more. That is why, even though employers can pay workers as low as the $7.25 federal minimum wage, only 4% of workers are paid that wage.

California’s “Gov. Moonbeam,” Jerry Brown, hailed Cali’s new $15-by-2022 minimum wage law with this bit of political double-talk:

“Economically, minimum wages may not make sense. But morally, socially and politically, they make every sense because it binds the community together to make sure parents can take care of their kids.”

As this PW post points out, Cook County’s $13/hour minimum by 2020 target would produce a $26,000, poverty-level income for a 40 hour-per-week, 50-week-per-year worker.

Big whoop for a small benefit.

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>