If the council's vote holds true, the hourly wage would rise from $8.25 to $13 by 2019. Tipped employees would see a $1 increase, from $4.95 to $5.95.
By 8:30 a.m., there was no sign of the demonstration, as today's plan continued with a march downtown. The protests coincide with a series of nationwide fast-food strikes planned for Thursday.
Though the council overwhelming approved the measure, with a 44 to 5 vote, there's been a variety of opinions about the potential increase. Owners don't want their budgets to increase. Workers want better pay. Politicians want their constituencies to like them. Here's a smattering of chatter on the issue from various media outlets:
"I anticipate this even getting more quicker the pace of eliminating servers; number two, eliminating dishwashers and busboys, and going to disposables. These are what's happening in the real world." – 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney, former chairman of the Illinois Restaurant Association and owner Ann Sather Restaurants [CBS Chicago]
"We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses – like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants – is manageable." – statement from McDonald's USA [EaterWire]
"While tip workers can make a living wage as bartenders and servers, this is in fine-dining positions where white workers are twice as likely to be hired than women of color. Women and people of color mainly work in fast-food, casual dining." – Nataki Rhodes, Restaurant Opportunities Center United. [Sun-Times]
"I think we have a great product, but at the end of the day, can I charge 10, 12, 15% more than the guy down the street? I don't know and that's what scares me." – Dan Costello, owner of Home Run Inn Pizza, and supporter of the increase. [WBEZ]
"This isn't about sound economic policy, this is about the election cycle." – Hank Meyer, owner of BJ's Market and Bakery, who supports the increase. [Tribune]
"How much is a cone going to cost for a family that comes in? I'm a businessperson trying to make a living and stay here." – Lynn Sapp, owner of Beverly's Original Rainbow Cone. [DNA Info]
There are those who claim restaurant businesses will leave or avoid Chicago due to the wage increase, like this DNA Info report that claims a Panera Bread will leave the south side, in part due to the wage hike. That's not what they found in Seattle, as a report from the pro-labor Seattle Income Inequality Advisory Committee found "businesses absorbed the costs through lower turnover, small price increases at restaurants." [Seattle Times via Media Matters]