As the debate heats up in Cook County over discussions surrounding proposed legislation for mandatory paid sick leave and the minimum wage increase, the WSCCI is working with our partners: La Grange Business Association, Countryside Business Association and the Oak Park – River Forest Chamber of Commerce (in addition to numerous other members) to address the issues at hand. The loudest voice coming from our membership, to which we are responding to accordingly, surrounds the concern that the proposed mandatory paid sick leave (in particular) will have a challenging impact on small business (non- and for-profit alike). Specific concerns target the administrative accountability and “paperwork” trail that will be required to comply with regulations as a result and the additional cost and time associated with this process. We have been informed that:
· Many of the Cook County Commissioners are in favor of the ordinance, which will be going to a vote October 5th
· In the meantime, we have also been informed that local municipalities could use home rule to opt out, but that leaves businesses in the unincorporated areas without any protection
· Since our meeting with our aforementioned partners, other partners have also informed us that they, along with chambers and business groups, are banning together in hopes rewrite parts of the ordinance so that it easier to grasp and absorb if it becomes approved against objections. In addition Villages like Schaumburg have expressed their concern about the legislation as well.
As we respond and keep you all in the loop, one of our members asked that we share a piece from a Chicago Tribune article surrounding a Chicago business, who unfortunately didn’t survive the overwhelming challenges they were facing (and preparing to face) as it affects small business: “Unfortunately the rapidly changing labor market for the hospitality industry has resulted in immediate, substantial increases in payroll expenses that we could not absorb through price increases. In the last two years, we have seen a 27% increase in the base minimum wage, a 60% increase in kitchen wages, and a national shortage of skilled culinary workers. As we look down the road, we are facing a December 1 change in federal labor regulations that will nearly double required salaries for managers to qualify as exempt, a 2017 mandatory sick leave requirement and another minimum wage increase. Coupled with increasing Chicago and Cook County taxes and fees that disproportionately impact commercial properties and businesses, we are operating in an environment in which we do not see a path forward. We are unable to further raise prices in this competitive restaurant market in order to sustain the labor costs necessary to operate. “
We highly encourage you to reach out to your Commissioner and share your voice at this time. YOUR VOICE MATTERS!