Latest Minimum Wage Hike Goes To Eleven

Nov 19, 2014

Gloria Davis says she won't give the temp agency she works for the satisfaction of publicly stating its name. She says her $8.25 wage isn't enough for her to afford housing in Chicago. She's calling for legislators to raise Illinois' minimum wage.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

The sponsor of a minimum wage hike says she'll push to get it passed during the legislature's veto session, which began today, Tues. Nov. 19.

Sen. Kim Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, pointed to the results of a non-binding referendum. Sixty-seven percent of Illinois voters said “yes," Illinois should raise its minimum wage to $10 an hour by Jan. 1, 2015. The current rate is $8.25.

Results showed support for an increase in much of the state, including traditionally Republican areas, like the Chicago suburbs and downstate.

"Many people think that this is just a Democrat issue, that this is just a Chicago issue. They don't look at poverty as ... it's not a Democrat or Republican issue. Poverty doesn't have a face. Poverty says if I work 40 hours a week, I deserve to not come to the state government for subsidies," Lightford says.

Lightford's latest proposal would bring Illinois' minimum wage to $10 in July, raise it fifty-cents the following summer, and eventually reach $11 an hour in 2017.

The referendum could provide the cover for legislators who were hesitant to approve a hike during the regular spring session.

Gloria Davis pleaded for them to do it now. Davis says despite working daily at a meat packing warehouse, she can't afford housing, so she moves from shelter to shelter in Chicago.

"It's actually vital. We're out here and we're, we're drowning," she says.

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has asked legislators to wait to vote on a minimum wage increase until he's sworn into office in January. He says a hike should be paired with pro-business policies; business groups say a hike will lead to layoffs. But Gov. Pat Quinn has made a wage hike a priority before he leaves office.