Governor Rauner Receives $15 Minimum Wage Bill

Senator Biss & Advocates Urge Him to Sign It Immediately

Chicago, IL – Legislation to raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 was delivered to Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk Monday morning. Shortly after, supporters of Senate Bill 81 held a press conference at the Thompson Center to demand Rauner do the right thing for Illinois workers and sign the bill immediately.Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, laid out the choice before governor Rauner. He said the governor could choose failed, trickle-down policies or economic prosperity built from the bottom-up and middle-out.

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Kelley was flanked by SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff, SEIU Local 73 Trustee Dian Palmer, State Senator Daniel Biss, chief cosponsor of the bill, and a variety of workers and community members who talked about how a $15 minimum wage would benefit them, their communities, local small businesses, and the overall economy.

“$15 is important because it’s where workers start to get out of poverty and it’s also where we cut off the welfare to corporations,” said Balanoff.

Malcolm Stone, a home care worker from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood and SEIU Healthcare Illinois member, said he’s worried that he’s one unlucky day away from being homeless.  He challenged the governor to try to live a day in his shoes getting by on only $10.50 an hour living in Englewood.

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Adriana Alvarez, a McDonald’s worker, single mother, and a member of the Chicago Fight for $15 told the governor the fate of 2.3 million people is in his hands.  She noted how boosting wages would immediately spur economic growth. “Raised wages would go straight back into the economy. I don’t have a savings account,” she said. “What’s a saving account?” she asked.

Marvin Hunter, Pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church and the President of the North Lawndale Black Chamber of Commerce, told the governor that signing SB 81 was the moral thing to do.  “We act as if crime creates poverty, but the reality of it is poverty creates crime.”

Senator Biss, said “This is a bill that’s time has come because for decades the rich have been getting richer, and the poor have been getting poorer, and the middle class has been slipping away.”

He highlighted a University of California, Berkeley study that shows Illinois taxpayers subsidize corporations to the tune of $5 billion annually for workers who are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid, and other public assistance because of corporations’ decision to pay poverty wages.

“We can’t afford that anymore,” Biss said.  “It’s time for the corporations to carry their weight.”

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SB 81 House sponsor, Representative Will Guzzardi, who is Springfield for the legislative special session, said in a statement that Illinois voters are watching. “The governor is on the clock. He has 60 days to decide whose side he’s on: the multi-million-dollar corporate interests, or the millions of Illinoisans who need a raise.”

Members of Action Now, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, One Northside, and Grassroots Collaborative were in attendance at today’s press conference.

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