By Sabi Reza
There has been a new increase in Chicago’s minimum wage that came into effect this past 1st of July and it currently sits at $12 per hour. According to the City of Chicago’s official site, an ordinance was passed in 2014 that would raise the hourly minimum wage to $10 in 2015, $10.50 in 2016, $11 in 2017, $12 in 2018 and $13 in 2019. Chicago residents have mixed feelings about this.
Manuel Valdezpino, father of four children says he doesn’t see much change with this new increase. “I have been living in Chicago for the past 20 years and each year the cost of living keeps getting higher, I know some people who have moved out of the city because of how expensive it is, and with this small increase I don’t see people being able to afford better for their families,” he said.
On the other hand, Clara Cervantes sees this as an opportunity to move forward. She works to provide for her two kids and says, “I think Chicago politicians are starting to see the need people have for higher wages, it isn’t much but it gives me hope for the future, who knows maybe later on it will increase to $15 per hour.” The sad truth is that even if the wage is raised there are workers that receive less than what is expected. Job owners are not always compliant with the law and pay their workers less than $9 per hour.
Tina Santibañes has experience working at a Chinese food company in Chicago., “Working conditions there were terrible, I worked there for about a year and was paid every 15 days. I didn’t stay there that long because I wanted to, but because I had to, for my children. The company didn’t pay us the $11 per hour that by law every worker had to receive, instead it was $8.25 per hour,” she said. Tina isn’t the only one complaining, not only about the working conditions but also about the pay.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection investigates and regulates Chicago businesses and it is their job to enforce the new ordinance. Union workers have been organizing rallies since 2017 in hopes of raise wages to $15 per hour along with receiving paid days off.