Parks, building commission contracts to require $13 an hour wage

SHARE Parks, building commission contracts to require $13 an hour wage
SHARE Parks, building commission contracts to require $13 an hour wage

The Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Building Commission have moved to a $13-an-hour minimum wage requirement of their contractors and subcontractors, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The park district and building commission will require contractors pay their employees the minimum wage rate Mayor Rahm Emanuel seeks for the city of Chicago.

The move comes as the mayor prepares to take a minimum wage ordinance before the City Council that is expected to be voted on before Jan. 1.

Emanuel also plans to work with Gov. Pat Quinn to push for the statewide minimum wage hike that had been a platform of Quinn’s re-election campaign, and they hope to do so before governor-elect BruceRauner is sworn in, according to sources.

“We are pleased to adopt Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s executive order on raising the minimum wage so that we can provide greater economic opportunity for employees of PBC contractors and subcontractors,” Erin Lavin Cabonargi, executive director of the Public Building Commission, said.

Parks and the commission bring to a total of four the number of sister agencies that have raised the wage floor for contractors and subcontractors, following a September executive order and subsequent urging by Emanuel.

The Emanuel executive order required city contractors pay employees at least $13 an hour on city procurements after Oct. 1. That order covered some 1,000 contracted workers, currently paid $11.93 an hour — more than Illinois’ current minimum wage of $8.25 an hour and the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

At sister agencies, some 2,400 workers typically employed as bus drivers and aides, custodial crews, and landscaping and maintenance workers, are affected.

“The Park District is proud to support Mayor Emanuel in ensuring that there is a fair working wage across the city of Chicago. Investing in the people who are working on our city’s park projects is another way that we can to make our city stronger,” Parks Superintendent Mike Kelly said.

Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago are the only two sister agencies that have not responded to the mayor’s prodding.

The Chicago Transit Authority was the first to follow Emanuel’s lead, adopting the $13 minimum on Oct. 15 for procurements after Nov. 15.

Chicago Housing Authority followed Oct. 27, the requirement effective immediately.

The building commission is expected to adopt the new minimum at its board meeting Wednesday, also to be effective immediately.

The Park District’s $13 requirement will be effective Jan. 1.

Contractors who don’t comply risk losing their city, CTA, CHA, PBC or parks business.

Minimum wage was a hot-button issue in the midterm elections, with a nonbinding referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot — asking Illinois voters whether the statewide minimum should be raised from $8.25 an hour to $10 — approved by 67 percent statewide and by 87 percent in Chicago.

Emanuel has been pushing the populist issue after embracing a mayoral task force’s recommendations this summer that Chicago’s minimum wage be raised to $13 an hour by 2018. A phased-in wage hike would affect 400,000 Chicagoans.

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