Updated 07/30/14 – 5:19 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced a plan to the City Council to gradually increase the minimum wage in Chicago to $13 an hour.
The mayor’s proposal would hike hourly pay for minimum wage workers by 45 percent from the current $8.25 over the next four years. If approved, the proposal would raise the minimum wage by $1.25 an hour each of the next three years, followed by a $1 increase in 2018.
A minimum wage working group appointed by the mayor has recommended the city’s minimum wage also be tied to inflation for future increases.
The mayor said the increase would impact more than 400,000 workers in Chicago, who make up nearly 31 percent of the city’s workforce.
Emanuel said he met with a group of small business owners at a roundtable discussion Monday, and they supported the plan, because they believe a higher minimum wage is needed to keep employees happy and more productive.
The mayor has said the minimum wage hike would add $800 million to the local economy, but it’s not as clear-cut as that.
However, some business owners have said a higher minimum wage would lead to layoffs.
“You’d probably have to cut back on staff, and potentially raise prices to the consumer, because in the business we’re in – in the restaurant business – our two largest costs are food and labor,” said Rocky Gupta, owner of Chef Luciano restaurant in the South Loop.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association said a $13-an-hour minimum wage in Chicago could drive some businesses out of the city altogether.
“We all know that it is less expensive to do business outside of this city, and so when you’re talking about increasing labor costs – which for most businesses is, if not their number one, then their number two cost of even operating a business – it’s a big deal to them,” IRMA vice president Tanya Triche said.
However, the mayor noted the minimum wage in Illinois has not gone up in four years, which has put more pressure on many households, especially those headed by single mothers.
State lawmakers have put a question on the November ballot, asking if the minimum wage for Illinois should go up to $10 per hour.
the City Council moved forward on several other measures Wednesday. CBS 2’s Jay Levine reports reports the council took another step toward welcoming so-called Border Kids; those unaccompanied minors detained after trying to enter the United States illegally.
Council members also demanded answers about those controversial red light cameras, and finally honored a trail-blazing former Mayor.
“These kids are leaving violence, there are a thousand kids. We are not only a city of big shoulders we are a city of big hearts and we will get them on their way,” Emanuel said.
Right now many are in camps on the Mexican border, and while some have criticized the mayor for offering our help, while so many of our own children remain at risk, a number of influential aldermen, including Finance Chairman Ed Burke called for hearings to mobilize support for housing and support services for them here.
Also, a number of aldermen introduced a resolution demanding hearings and answers from the city about those controversial red-light cameras.
And then there was the long overdue honor for former Mayor Jane Byrne, Chicago’s first and only female mayor. Aldermen voted to rename water tower plaza “Jane M Byrne” plaza. While praising her for turning Navy Pier into a huge tourist attraction, extending the CTA Blue Line to O’Hare, even moving into a public housing project as a symbolic and gutsy gesture standing up to gang violence.