North Riverside’s village board on June 5 signaled its intent to opt out of two ordinances passed by the Cook County Board last year that would raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2020 and allow hourly workers to accrue up to five paid sick days per year.
The village board’s finance committee, which includes trustees Joseph Mengoni, Fernando Flores and Terri Sarro, recommended that the village’s attorney prepare an ordinance opting out of both county laws. The rest of the board, including Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr., who also attended the committee meeting indicated they supported the opt-out language.
The village board is expected to vote on the ordinance at their next meeting on June 19.
Hermanek pointed to action last week by the Illinois General Assembly as part of his reasoning for opposing the county’s laws. Both houses of the state legislature voted to approve a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. The bill is now on the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner, awaiting his action.
“The state has finally addressed it and that’s a reasonable amount, $15 an hour,” Hermanek said. “And if it’s statewide I don’t see why any of us shouldn’t do anything except advocate in support.
The main sponsor of the state’s minimum wage bill, Senate Bill 81, is Kimberly Lightford (D-4th), who represents all of North Riverside and portions of Brookfield. State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-11th), who represents Riverside south of the BNSF tracks is a Senate co-sponsor.
Local state representatives signing on as House co-sponsors were LaShawn Ford (D-8th), Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24th), Silvana Tabares (D-21st). Though neither co-sponsored the bill, both Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-23rd) and Sen. Steven Landek (D-12th) voted in favor of it.
Hermanek joined a chorus of area leaders arguing that the county’s law pitted communities against one another, saying those communities opting in were in danger of losing businesses and customers to towns where the new minimum wage law is not in play.
“If everyone’s [opting out] except you, it’s defeating the purpose, and you’re just jeopardizing your own interests of the village,” Hermanek said.
Hermanek and Mengoni also stated that a legal review by Cook County State’s Attorney indicated the county may lack authority to impose the wage laws on municipalities. The laws have not yet been challenged in court.
Unless a municipality votes to opt out of the county law, the minimum wage will increase to $10 on July 1 and then increase $1 per year over the next three years to bring it to $13 an hour.
Riverside’s village board voted to opt out of Cook County’s minimum wage and accrued sick time laws on April 20. Brookfield’s village board has not yet publicly discussed or acted on the measures. That board is next scheduled to meet on June 12 and again on June 26.