Is the Tide Turning on Local Minimum Wage?


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Business and government leaders in Elk Grove Village, Ill., met in February to discuss whether to opt out of Cook County’s minimum wage and paid sick-leave requirements scheduled to take effect July 1, the village’s mayor said recently. The village could become fifth jurisdiction to reject the county’s requirements, which were established in 2016, a trend echoed by municipalities in other states, most notably California.

So far, the Cook County towns and villages of Barrington, Oak Forest, Rosemont and Tinley Park decided not to follow the county’s minimum wage and paid sick-leave ordinances. More could follow depending on Elk Grove Village’s decision, Mayor Craig Johnson  said. The village is home to a large industrial park, which makes it influential among the other towns in the county, Johnson told Bloomberg BNA on Feb. 24.

In California, a similar trend may be taking hold. Several cities in Silicon Valley decided not to join neighbors in adopting a coordinated regional minimum wage.

Cupertino, Los Altos, Palo Alto and San Jose adopted minimum wages, after a study sponsored by Cities Association of Santa Clara suggested the jurisdictions in the region increase to the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2019. Mountain View and Sunnyvale adopted more aggressive requirements.

Just as minimum wage measures gained popularity within some city councils, others, Gilroy, Los Gatos, Morgan Hill and Saratoga, rejected it in favor of following the state minimum wage, which is scheduled to reach $15 an hour for all employers by 2023.

The feeling is that the state, not the county, should be the jurisdiction to dictate minimum wage and benefit requirements. Johnson said. “We commend the county, but it went too far,” he said.

The village likely is to choose the middle way and establish its own minimum wage and benefit requirements, Johnson said. Tiffin, a city in Johnson County, Iowa, chose the same route after the county passed a minimum wage law in 2015. Tiffin established a minimum wage higher than the state’s requirement, but lower than the county minimum.

Elk Grove Village employers said they were open to an increase in the minimum wage, but felt Cook County’s schedule was too aggressive, during a February meeting with the village’s Board of Trustees, Johnson said. Likewise, employers were comfortable with paid sick-leave requirements, but balked at the county’s record-keeping requirements, he said.

The Elk Grove Village board likely is to consider a minimum wage and paid sick-leave measure this spring aimed at balancing potential benefits to workers and employer concerns, Johnson said.

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