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

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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