Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed an executive order last week raising the minimum wage for employees of contractors and subcontractors doing business with the city.
The new hourly floor will be $13 an hour starting with contracts given out after October 1. According to a press release from the Mayor’s office, nearly 1,000 workers in fields ranging from landscaping to custodial services will benefit.
“A higher minimum wage is essential to putting a financial floor beneath our hard-working families,” Emanuel said. “With this Executive action, we’ll help ensure that nobody who is contracted to do work with the City of Chicago will ever have to raise their children in poverty.”
The move comes after Emanuel accepted the recommendations of a mayoral task force to increase the city price floor for all workers to $13 an hour by 2018. The proposed ordinance is now before the city council.
“This order represents another step towards our goal of a $13 minimum wage for Chicago workers, which will boost the incomes for 400,000 workers and lift 80,000 residents out of poverty,” said Ald. Will Burns, 4th Ward, in the press release.
The timing of this move indicates that politics may have been a factor. Derided as ‘Mayor 1 percent’ by opponents in the labor community and on the city council, the mayor may be trying to shore up progressive support leading up to the mayoral elections this February. As shown by numerous polls, an increase in the minimum wage is an issue that many progressives care about.
While the national minimum wage debate is stalled in a gridlocked Congress, Chicago is in good company amongst cities attempting to increase the wage.
Earlier this year, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance to raise it to $15 an hour over the next three years. A similar proposal is before San Francisco voters this November.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and the state’s leading Democrats have been pushing for a statewide increase to $10.10 an hour throughout the current campaign cycle. An advisory referendum will be on the state ballot this November.