North Riverside trustees made it official on June 19, voting 6 to 0 to opt out of Cook County’s minimum wage and accrued sick time laws.

The board had signaled that vote in early June when the village board’s finance committee addressed the subject during a committee meeting. Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. at that time argued that the state’s General Assembly was the body that ought to be addressing a state-wide minimum wage.

Indeed, both houses of the General Assembly in the past month voted to pass a bill that would raise the minimum wage statewide to $15 by 2022. The bill has yet to be sent to the governor for a signature, though Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to veto the bill once it lands on his desk.

In early June, Hermanek said he supported raising the state’s minimum wage, but did not support actions last year by the Cook County Board, which passed two laws. One  law would increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour on July 1 and then increase the minimum wage by $1 per year every July 1 until the minimum wage was $13 in 2020.

“The state has finally addressed it and that’s a reasonable amount, $15 an hour,” Hermanek said during the June 5 finance committee meeting. “And if it’s statewide I don’t see why any of us shouldn’t do anything except advocate in support.”

The county board also passed a law last year that would allow hourly workers to accrue up to five days of paid sick leave. The laws go into effect on July 1 in all communities within Cook County unless municipal governments vote to opt out.

Some have questioned whether the county has the authority to impose such a law on communities, but the law hasn’t been challenged in court.

The unanimous vote by North Riverside trustees on June 19 came without further discussion.

The vote was also unaccompanied by any of the vocal protests of minimum wage reform activists, who have been showing up at village board meetings across Cook County to try to convince local officials to change their minds.

Several pro-minimum wage advocates did appear at a North Riverside village board meeting back in mid-April, and a handful of people addressed the board, but the matter wasn’t on the agenda that night and the board didn’t discuss the subject at that time.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen Brookfield residents turned out at that board’s last meeting on June 12 to advocate for the village to honor the county’s laws. 

And protestors appear to have made an impact in Berwyn, where in the face of vocal opposition the city council decided not to vote on opting out of the county laws on June 13.

And Oak Park’s village board chose to remove the subject from its June 19 village board agenda after residents began organizing a protest of any move to opt out.

Riverside’s village board voted to opt out of the county minimum wage and sick time laws in April.

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