For Immediate Release
Legislators, Workers, Advocates Launch Campaign to Pass a $15 Wage Floor in Illinois
Land of Lincoln Joins Movement that has Raised Wages for 22 Million Workers
Rep. Guzzardi Announces Introduction of $15 Minimum Wage Legislation This Week
“$15 for Illinois Future” Coalition Pledge Powerful Grassroots Campaign to Support the Legislation
SPRINGFIELD - Rep. Will Guzzardi joined workers and advocates to kick off a new effort to raise the state minimum wage to $15/hr by 2022. Legislators will introduce a new bill this week, and workers and advocates in the “$15 for Illinois’ Future Campaign” pledged a powerful statewide field campaign to let voters know about the opportunity to raise pay for 2.3 million residents to $15/hr. More than 40 percent of working people in Illinois are paid less than $15/hr.
"$15 is the only forward for Illinois,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi. “We need to get Illinois' economy moving again and that begins by putting money in workers' pockets. $15 would impact millions of workers and bring billions to the state. This bill is what Illinois' families need to thrive."
The current minimum wage in Illinois has remained stagnant at $8.25/hr since 2012, far below the cost of living for any area in the state. According to estimates from the National Employment Law Project, a single worker in Carbondale or Danville would need to earn $15/hr by 2021 just to cover the basic food, housing, and transportation. A University of California at Berkley study shows that low pay costs Illinois taxpayers $5 billion a year in public assistance costs.
"Right now I'm working two jobs, but I still need public assistance to provide for my family,” said Michelle Lewis, a McDonald’s worker from Chicago. “I want to be able to stand on my own two feet and be able to spend more time with my kids, and making $15 per hour would make that possible. This new legislation gives me and working families around the state hope that we can win a better life for ourselves.”
Chicago, IL, was one of the first cities to join the Fight for $15 when fast-food workers launched the audacious movement four years ago. Since then it has become a national phenomenon, uniting underpaid workers across industries. The movement has delivered $64 billion in raises for 22 million workers by pressuring companies to raise their wage floors and winning $15/hr minimum wage hikes in state houses and city halls across America.
“I need a car to do my job of assisting seniors and the disabled, but my current income won’t begin to cover one,” said Ashley Mesch, a home health aide from Springfield who is paid just $10/hr. “Instead of putting this money in our pockets like many corporate CEOs do, workers would use the pay increase to make purchases that would fuel economic growth.”
In 2016 New York and California both passed laws phasing in $15/hr minimum wages. Cities across the country have done the same, from Seattle, WA to Washington, DC. The New York Times wrote that the movement, “turned $15/hour “from laughable to viable,” and declared, “$15 could become the new, de facto $7.25;”and The Washington Post said that $15/hour has “gone from almost absurdly ambitious to mainstream in the span of a few years.”
“New York and California are already poised to generate billions of dollars in economic stimulus to their economies by raising their minimum wages to $15,” said Katelyn Johnson, executive director of Action Now. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2022 would super-charge our recovery and create the middle-class jobs our state needs. It’s the right move for our state’s families and our future.”
Fast food workers are coming together all over the country to fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. We work for corporations that are making tremendous profits, but do not pay employees enough to support our families and to cover basic needs like food, health care, rent and transportation.