Wilmette Village President Bob Bielinski said Thursday Wilmette should unconditionally follow Cook County’s minimum wage and paid sick time rules, based on the local vote on county advisory referendums Nov. 6.
In June, the Village Board voted to “opt in” to the minimum wage rules, but with some conditions including a sunset clause, and voted against following the county sick time rules.
But Bielinski said seeing how 76 percent of Wilmette voters backed adhering to the Cook County minimum wage rule and 80 percent backed doing the same for the paid sick time guidelines, the village should fully opt into the county ordinances.
“None of this was prepared prior to the election results becoming available. This was all in the last two days,” he said.
Ordinances will be introduced at the Village Board’s meeting on Tuesday, he said, with a final vote set for Nov. 27.
If board members agree, Wilmette would require employers to let workers earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year, a regulation the board rejected in June 2017 and again in June of this year.
The new rules, if passed, should kick in on Jan. 1, Bielinski said.
“I believe this should be done promptly, mindful of the need to provide notice to our business community,” he said.
Cook County approved both measures in October 2016, but the law allows home-rule municipalities to “opt out” of following the law.
Village Board member Joel Kurzman, who unsuccessfully opposed opting out of the regulations in 2017, welcomed the ordinance.
“It’s simply about Wilmette being welcoming to its workers,” Kurzman said.
Wilmette’s minimum wage rule already echoes the county’s ordinance, which calls for the minimum wage to go to $13 an hour by July 2020, and to be indexed to the consumer price index after that. But sunset provisions, either under certain conditions or by July 2021, would disappear if the board agrees with Bielinski’s latest recommendation.
The referendum language was much more specific than very general 2014 and 2016 referendums on the same issues, Bielinski said.
Julie Wolf, one of the board members who’d voted in June for a minimum wage hike but against the paid sick time ordinance, said the referendum results were a strong indication of what residents want.
“I felt comfortable with what we did in June because I think a lot of us really hoped the state would act,” she said, noting she still has some reservations about how the paid sick time might affect small businesses. In June, Wolf had worried about what she’d called onerous record-keeping.
Other minimum wage and paid sick time supporters isaid they were surprised but happy with Bielinski’s recommenation.
“I’m looking forward to the prospect that I can take my family to restaurants without worry that workers might be coming to work sick and contaminating our food,” said Jeff Axelrod.
Wilmette resident Jon Marshall, another community organizer, said he was pleased with the recommendation.
“I think it’s clear that Wilmette residents strongly support this,” he said.
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November 9, 2018 at 10:12AM