CHICAGO, May 28 (UPI) -- Aldermen in Chicago are calling for the city to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour in response to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 45-day ultimatum for area leaders to draft wage reform to address the city's growing inequality problem. Chicago's current minimum wage is $8.25 an hour.
Weeks after Chicago was faced with fast food workers striking, calling for a $15 hourly wage, the city council and local community groups have responded. The proposed raise puts increased pressure on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel who threatened to address the issue with a panel of his choosing if city council failed to act
"When we do this, we give people more money to spend," said Alderman Joe Moreno at Wednesday's city council meeting. "That means more sales tax revenue, more revenue to all of the other businesses that sell to these employees. It's an all-around good thing if we do it correctly."
Moreno went on to speak to concerns that a higher minimum wage would be too great a financial burden for the private sector to take on.
"Every time we do something like this—whether it's plastic bags that we passed, raising the minimum wage or creating better working conditions—you know what they say? It's gonna hurt business. Translation: It's gonna hurt the people at the top possibly. It's not gonna hurt business. It never has. Raising the minimum wage in the United States has never, ever hurt the broader economy...Our economy has been splintered with those at the top having way more. The middle class is shrinking. We want the middle class to grow."
Under the proposal, companies that make over $50 million in annual revenue would be required to pay employees $12.50 an hour within 90 days and $15 an hour within a year. It remains to be seen if Emanuel will respond with a counter-plan from the mayors office.