Chicago Minimum Wage Question Set To Appear On March Primary Ballots

Dec 18, 2013 | Updated Dec 19, 2013

When Chicago voters head to the polls to vote in next March's primary election, some of them will encounter a question that's been the subject of many headlines in recent months: whether hourly workers are long overdue for a pay bump.

The Raise Chicago Coalition announced Tuesday that they delivered petitions to place a non-binding advisory referendum calling for the city to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour to the city's Board of Elections.

According to NBC Chicago, the group petitioned for the referendum to be put on the ballots in 102 of the city's 2,000-plus precincts in the March 18, 2014 primary election.

The language of the referendum only applies to larger corporations and businesses -- such as McDonald's or Walmart, two companies that have been frequently targeted by wage protests in recent months -- that pulled in $50 million in profits in the last tax year. Smaller employers would not be impacted.

Gloria Warner, Englewood resident and president of coalition member Action Now, said in a statement that she is "absolutely confident that working families and communities across Chicago will lift our voices and vote for this proposed referendum in huge numbers.”

As DNAinfo Chicago reports, the City Council already maxed out the number of citywide referendums allowed on the March ballot when it voted to allow questions concerning concealed carrying of guns inside restaurants, increased taxi rates and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The current minimum wage is $8.25 an hour which, though a dollar more than the federal minimum wage, has been criticized as too low to live off of. Low wages and union-busting have been the subject of strikes including one coordinated between workers in some 100 cities earlier this month.

"It's not livable," Tyree Johnson, who told HuffPost during an August protest that he's been a McDonald's employee for over two decades. "I've been dedicated to McDonald's for the past 21 years. I still make $8 an hour."

Though President Barack Obama last month threw his support behind a Senate measure that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday reported that 66 percent of respondents support raising the federal minimum wage, though 31 percent oppose doing so and other recent polling on the issue has found similar levels of support.

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