Protesters Call For Increasing Minimum Wage

CHICAGO (CBS) — Nearly 150 people picketed outside a Little Village car wash, a Chatham Walmart and a Streeterville restaurant, demanding an increase in the minimum wage.

Organizers protested on the fourth anniversary of the latest increase in the federal minimum wage as part of a nationwide effort to lobby Congress to authorize an increase. They said they picked the three businesses because they have resisted efforts to increase wages.

Illinois is already $1 an hour above the federal minimum wage, at a state minimum of $8.25/hour. But protester Shani Smith said it is not enough.

“Had minimum wage caught up with inflation, we would actually see our minimum wage workers working for at least $10.71 an hour,” she said.

The figure goes even higher if employers provide workers with full health benefits.

Gov. Pat Quinn, in his February State of the State address, proposed an increase to $10/hour to be phased in over four years. Business interests have lobbied in Springfield for a reduction in the minimum wage to the federally-mandated $7.25/hour.

Smith said the need for an increase is immediate, but said protesters realize that making any change up or down will take a protracted fight.

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