Minimum wage, negligible impact

Mikaela Larson, Sports Editor

On July 1, 2017, legislation from Cook County Board of Commissioners went into effect raising the minimum wage from the state mandated $8.25 an hour to $10 an hour, however both La Grange and Western Springs voted to opt out of the pay raise.

“[The Western Springs] Board was in a state of transition prior to the effective date,” Village President Alice Gallagher said. “Three new trustees and a new president were sworn in on May 22, 2017. That left only three trustees from the old Board transitioning to the new Board. It has long been the Western Springs Board’s policy to avoid saddling a new Board with policy decisions that have a major and long-term impact on the community, like the Cook County ordinances. Temporarily opting out of the ordinances gave the newly elected Board members time to settle into their roles and carefully review the issue before coming to a decision.”

Many seasonal jobs who sent out their offer letters before the villages’ decision to withdrawal, kept their promise of a wage increase. This included the La Grange Country Club (LGCC), La Grange Field Club (LFC) and Western Springs Service Club (WSSC), LGCC employee Claire Gertsmeier ‘18 said.

“I think it is important to have a higher minimum wage because it motivated me a lot more,” Gertsmeier said. “I have to do the work that supports the money I am earning. It also made me want to work more so that I could earn more.”

While Western Springs has chosen for the moment not to follow Cook County, it does not mean it will stay that way, Gallagher said. The Board has adopted an ordinance that advises them to revisit the issue if the state legislature has not acted on increasing minimum wage by the end of 2017.

“Historically, labor issues have been resolved at the federal or state level,” Gallagher said. “Some believe that the county does not have the authority to impose labor standards on its municipalities and in enacting these ordinances it has overreached its authority. There are several state’s attorney’s opinions that advise the county it lacks the authority to enact a minimum wage law.”