Karen Lewis to Bruce Rauner's minimum wage proposal: Try to live on $7.20 wage for 90 days

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 01/08/2014, 04:45pm


The boisterous Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has come up with a proposal for multi-millionaire Bruce Rauner, a GOP gubernatorial candidate who is supporting a rollback in the minimum wage in Illinois. Lewis charges that Rauner is a billionaire who “makes $7.36 a second” and wants to “wage war on low-income people.”

She made the remarks before Rauner’s subsequent 180 on the matter, in which he revised his statement and said he would actually advocate to increase the minimum wage.

“I challenge Bruce Rauner to live on $7.25 for 90 days, without government assistance, access to his overflowing bank accounts and the financial support of his family and friends,” Lewis said. “I challenge him to accept a job that pays $7.25 an hour, without the promise of a 40-hour work week, and show us how he can maintain a family of four on those earnings and under the condition of uncertainty.”

She is the latest to react to the revelation that Rauner advocated lowering Illinois’ minimum wage by $1 an hour to be in line with the national standard. Rauner made the statement in support of moving the state’s minimum wage from its existing $8.25 an hour level to $7.25 an hour last month during a candidates’ forum in the Quad Cities, but the remarks started receiving attention across the state only on Tuesday. Rauner, a venture capitalist of Winnekta, has reported that he made $53 million in 2012.

“It is ironic that billionaire Rauner, who reported $53 million in earnings last year or $7.36 per second is calling for a reduction in the state’s minimum wage,” Lewis continued. “While he sits back and ponders where to take his next exotic vacation or which mansion to lay his head, others are trying to survive in a climate of foreclosures, rising medical costs, and the shuttering of neighborhood schools. Instead of pledging a war on poverty he is vowing to advance a war on poor and working-class people.”

(Read Karen Lewis’ full statement here)