Illinois Raises Minimum Wage to $15 Hourly By 2025

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Once again, Illinois shows what a difference a positive election outcome makes for workers: The very first law the new pro-worker and Democratic-controlled state government approved raises the state’s minimum wage to $15 hourly by 2025.

The measure, signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Feb. 19, raises the minimum from its current $8.25 hourly, enacted in 2010. It also makes Illinois yet another state that’s tired of waiting on the feds to raise the U.S. minimum. That’s been $7.25 hourly for a decade.

And the Illinois minimum wage hike marks yet another reversal from the bitter 4-year anti-worker anti-union reign of Pritzker’s right-wing predecessor, Republican Bruce Rauner.

The GOPer spent his years trying to destroy Illinois public worker unions, opposing minimum wage increases – even for underpaid teachers – and trying to impose a big business/radical right agenda on the Land of Lincoln.

In the process, Rauner drove state finances into the ditch, as the Democratic-controlled legislature passed budgets, which he’d veto because they lacked his union-busting schemes.

State agencies and colleges and the people and students they serve, suffered.

Illinois voters kept the Democratic majorities last fall, and Pritzker, with workers enthusiastically backing him, clobbered Rauner. The minimum wage hike is the first result. The State Senate approved it (SB1) 39-18 and the Assembly agreed, 69-47.

“Workers who deserve to live a better life are working but remaining in poverty,” the measure’s chief sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, told the Senate Labor Committee.

Business, resigned to the fact that lawmakers and Pritzker were going to raise the wage, tried to split the state: A high minimum for Chicago, lower for its suburbs, and still lower for downstate. They failed. But small businesses will get a tax credit to help offset the impact of the minimum wage hike on their profits.

The hike cheered “Fight for 15 and a union” advocates, who are pushing minimum wage hikes around the nation, given congressional inaction on the issue. The new U.S. House Democratic majority also intends to hike the minimum to $15, but the GOP-run Senate and GOP President Donald Trump show no signs of agreement.

“They once laughed at us for fighting for $15. Now more than 1 in 5 workers is covered by a $15 minimum wage, and 22 million workers have won $68 billion in raises since our movement began in 2012. One by one, states are wising up to what we’ve known all along: that all workers need $15, and that a decent wage is good for workers, good for business, and good for the economy,” the group said.

“Our momentum right now is unstoppable. On the heels of our victories in Illinois and New Jersey, workers are fighting to win $15 in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and Maryland.”

“But our work’s not over. It’s time for the rest of the country to catch up. And that means $15, everywhere.”

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

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