Calumet City to Allow Residents to Vote for Fair Wage

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos welcomed the Calumet City Council’s passage of an ordinance which provided for the submission of an advisory public referendum to appear on the April 4th General Election Ballot asking voters if Calumet City should increase its minimum wage to $15 for all workers during a press conference on Monday. This action is a testament to a two month organizing campaign initiated by members of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos from Calumet City along with other community partners. Over the course of three weeks, community members collected over 1,400 signatures of Calumet City voters wishing to have a say in whether Calumet City should increase the minimum wage for all workers, including those in the restaurant industry, who currently only make $4.95/hour + tips outside of Chicago. “This is an important win not only for Calumet City workers but all workers in Illinois. Tipped workers have been excluded from minimum wage increases for far too long. This could help set the precedence for a trend in minimum wage increases to come in Illinois,” said Ana Guajardo of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos. “Because tipped workers are disproportionately impacted by wage theft and mistreatment in the work place, we will continue to work with worker and community advocacy organizations to ensure inclusive raise the wage campaigns for all workers—tipped and untipped.”

The approval of the ordinance comes at a time when there is widespread concern about attacks on workers throughout the nation following the pick of Andy Pudzer, CEO of Hardy’s and Carl Jr.’s, for Secretary of Labor. In a recent study by the Federal Department of Labor, almost 60 percent of Pudzer’s restaurants violated wage and hour laws. “We are so glad the people of Calumet City were able to get One Fair Wage on the ballot. Tipped workers are largely women and people of color. Many receive just $4.95 per hour, thanks to America’s subminimum wage system. Forced to rely on tips — rather than a fair wage from their employer — to survive, they face disproportionate rates of poverty, sexual harassment, and discrimination. Given the current fiscal crisis in Illinois, and the underfunding or altogether dissolution of important social welfare programs, Calumet City’s hardworking tipped workers need and deserve a fair, living wage.”

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