CHICAGO (CBS) — Toni Preckwinkle is pledging the “Fight for 15” would be over if she’s elected mayor of Chicago.

Preckwinkle’s backing a $15 minimum wage for Chicago. That’s prompting strong reactions from the business community as well as from other candidates.

This year, Chicago’s minimum wage goes up to $13 an hour in July. That’s not enough, according to Preckwinkle.

“If you look at what it costs to live in Chicago, $15 an hour brings a family of four just above the poverty level. So if we’re going to have jobs that enable you to support your families, we’ve got to pay people a little better.”

It’s an argument many Democrats endorse, including Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.

“It’s good for the working families of Illinois and good for our economy,” Pritzker said during his inaugural address.

But merchants are already fighting back. Tanya Triche Dawood from the Retail Merchants Association said small businesses are already stretched.

“Right now we’re talking about increasing labor without increasing sales. The math doesn’t add up as far as keeping small business actually in business,”Dawood said.

When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed hiking Chicago’s minimum wage in 2014…

“America is due a pay raise. The minimum wage hasn’t gone up in years,” said Emanuel.

Chicago’s minimum wage was just $8.25. It rises to $13 in 2019. Preckwinkle’s plan?

“I’ve proposed is that we raise the minimum wage 50 cents every six months until we get to $15.

Among her mayoral opponents, Gery Chico supports a Chicago $15 minimum wage. Susana Mendoza wants the state to move to $15 first, so city remains competitive with the suburbs.

But Bill Daley said not so fast. He’d like to get to $13 before discussing further hikes.

As you might imagine, the Illinois Restaurant Association is no fan of a Chicago $15 minimum wage either. Its president said the move would devastate neighborhood restaurants, lead to more layoffs and fewer entry level jobs.

 

Derrick Blakley