Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty has called a special City Council meeting for 10 a.m. Friday to consider a measure that would block a July 1 increase in the minimum wage approved by the county board.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told members of the Economic Development Committee Wednesday night that the proposed ordinance to be considered by the aldermen would include a sunset clause so it would only temporarily block the increase until the City Council could have a more extensive debate on the minimum wage issue at its next regular meeting on Monday, July 10.

The ordinance would also block a related county measure that would require employers to provide paid sick leave benefits to workers.

The county adopted the minimum wage measure, whose lead sponsor was Commissioner Larry Suffredin of Evanston, last October. It would gradually increase the minimum wage from the current statewide minimum of $8.25 an hour to $13, in line with similar increases adopted by the City of Chicago. The first step of the increase, to $10, is to take effect July 1.

Bobkiewicz said it initially appeared that only communities on the western edge of the county were opting out of the wage hike measure — as home rule communities are allowed to do under state law.

But within the past few days, he said, the override fever has spread and now both Skokie and Wilmette have moved to override the wage increase, which would apply to any business with four or more employees.

In Oak Park, a community often compared politically to Evanston, trustees are scheduled to vote on an override measure during a special meeting at 5 p.m. Friday.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, who was chairing the EDC meeting, said a vote on a temporary override measure Friday would at least give aldermen time to think about the issue before taking more permanent action.

By July 10, Bobkiewicz added, people who might be going away for the Fourth of July holiday weekend would be back and “then we could get a fair hearing for folks on all sides of the issue.”

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said having Evanston’s minimum wage increase while it did not go up in neighboring communities “would create significant economic disadvantages” for business owners here.

“The idea of having the county do it was to make it uniform,” Wilson added.

A union-backed nationwide campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour has gotten far less traction in Evanston than in Chicago, and city officials have previously avoided taking any action on the issue for fear of driving business to neighboring communities with a lower wage rate.

A study last fall by the Voorhees Center at the University of Illinois Chicago indicated that a minimum wage increase to $13 an hour would eliminate the housing cost burden for several hundred Evanston families.

While all full-time City of Evanston employees make more than $15 an hour, scores of part-time city workers fall below that level.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. When was this meeting scheduled?
    The Public Meetings Act requires that an agenda and notice of the meeting is posted at least 48 hours before the meeting. Bill, do you know if this was done? I don’t see anything on their website.

    1. Meeting notice requirement

      The state open meetings act reads in part:

      “Public notice of any special meeting except a meeting held in the event of a bona fide emergency, or of any rescheduled regular meeting, or of any reconvened meeting, shall be given at least 48 hours before such meeting”

      A notice for Friday’s meeting was sent to the news media by email at 10:27 p.m. Wednesday evening. That’s less than 48 hours before 10 a.m. Friday.

      However, it might be argued that the coming into force of the minimum wage increase on July 1, coupled with the last-minute actions of neighboring communities to exempt themselves from it, created an “emergency” under which the 48-hour notice rule would not apply.

      And while the notice sent to the media last night described the session as a “special” meeting, a notice posted on the city website this morning describes it as an “emergency” meeting.

      If you don’t like it, you could complain to the public access counselor in the state attorney general’s office.

      — Bill

  2. Minimum Wage Effect

    Everyone would like to see wages increase but the question is the real effect.  See below for Seattle.

    We have seen where cities that made big increase at one time, faced a backlash from longer term employees. If you made $15 p/h after working five years and a new hire gets $15—what is your reaction ? You want an increase and then existing employees at that new level want an increase. Leading to documented cases where the higher paid [but no increase]  left their company.


  3. Hagerty showing us his true colors

    In January, Steve Hagerty sought the endorsement of the Democratic Party of Evanston.  In his questionairre, he said the following:


    “What should be the minimum wage? Should workers be able to earn paid sick leave? What is

    the City’s role on these issues?”

    “I support a $15 an hour minimum wage and am pleased to see jurisdictions across America

    going this route. Yes, workers should be able to earn paid sick leave. Our whole city benefits

    from a work force that is respected, treated, and compensated fairly. We should take the

    opposite approach from the Turnaround Agenda (and cities like Lincolnshire that agree to act as

    laboratories for right-wing anti-union economic policy experiments) and be a city that

    champions worker rights locally and lends our voice to similar state efforts.”


    But here he is, delaying implementation of the policy he claimed to support.

    Don’t forget that he won by 123 votes.  Are there 124 people out there who voted for him on this issue?  I think there are.

    1. You’re off base on the criticism

      He stated today he is for it, but just wants to have an open dialog about it.  He called the special meeting so it wasn’t delayed to 7/10.  I think you’re off base a bit on this criticism 

      1. Time will tell

        Time will tell but he seems like a republican in democrat’s clothing to me

    2. Why I’m shocked!

      Wow….a man who spent several times what the office earns to win by 124 votes had his own agenda (I.e. make sure minimum wage doesn’t go up for his business friends) so he might have promised things he didn’t intend to support? Why I’m shocked! And an emergency meeting about a topic everyone knew was being implemented in order to circumvent the rules about 48 hour notice so no one attends? Surely not! Get this: politics in Evanston is just as dirty as anywhere (Chicago!) However, people say “but we’re Evanston!” That makes it all better!

      1. Hagerty will parrot any Republican economic talking point

        And do so under the “guise” of creating discussion…that happens to benefit a certain group of people in the short run.

        If you can’t figure out a way to pay your workers a livable wage than you can’t afford to be in business where others would have found a way instead.

        And if you can afford to buy an election, I’m sure meeting with all the other municipal governments whom his business can potentially contract with, pays for itself. Probably pays much better than $13 an hour.

  4. Just vote out the Democrats

    Seattle enacted a minimum wage increase 3 years ago and according to a recent study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city, the costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one. It is a massive failure.

    Democrat Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin sponsored this ill advised minimum wage hike in a very toxic business environment where the state is spiraling into bankruptcy and the county has the highest sales tax in the nation. Chicago, dealing with a murder epidemic, last year passed the largest property tax hike in history.

    Democrats who have a SUPERMAJORITY in Springfield failed for THREE YEARS to pass a budget.

    How much you wanna bet that Suffredin’s son, Thomas Suffredin who is Evanston’s Sixth Ward alderman, defends this anti-business failed minimum wage hike.

    Unfortunately, we are seeing that government is running out of other people’s money. And guess where that money comes from? The private sector, which has been fleeing Illinois for years!!!!!! Forcing current and potential business owners to raise wages in a high tax environment filled with fiscal unceretainty quickens the death spiral our state is in.

    Solution – in 2018 do not vote for any Democrat.

    1. Al you are right on point

      The average employee in the minimum wage Seattle market is making $150 less per month than they were 3 years ago. Primary reasons are less hours, more business efficiency, and increased automation. All driven by the higher wage burden. Forgot to mention loss of jobs. . This Seattle fail looks really bad since over 60 % of jobs that Obama said he created, during his 8 year reign, were minimum wage jobs.

      1. Not Valid to Apply Study to Evanston

        There are lots of people questioning this study; most important is the fact that raising the minimum wage didn’t crash the Seattle economy. The only question is whether some low-wage workers didn’t benefit from it due to fewer low-wage jobs available, or whether those workers got higher-paying jobs. But an earlier study when Seattle raised the minimum wage to $11 an hour showed no problems; it’s only the raise to $13/hour in 2016 that caused any possible problem. Considering that Evanston is raising it to only $10/hour and that Chicago will be at $11/hour, it’s hard to see much plausible harm to the Evanston economy.

      1. Consider the source

        So you cite a leftist with an opinion in the Washington Post to dispute an actual study from economists.  You’ve got me convinced (sarcasm).

        Did you notice how this author failed to mention the important fact that the city of Seattle commissioned the University of Washington’s study?

        How’s that ‘resistance” going?

        Oh, and have a read on dissenting opinion:

        Enjoy 😉


  5. Livable Wages Needed to Velocity of Cash in Market

    This is interesting article from the NY Times last year.  What’s happening at Walmart after they increased minimum wages and provided more opportunities for growth within their company seems to be working.  

    We need to get away from thinking that shareholder value can only be increased by reducing costs.  A number of businesses actually focus on employee welfare with the view that happy employees improve the business.

    Furthermore, increasing wages for minimum wage employees means that more cash will “play” in the market.  For example, someone making $15/hr and works 40 hours/week will gross $600/week. That person will likely spend all of that income paying rent, groceries, clothes, utilities, and if they have anything left will likely spend it on discretionary items that wealthy people don’t even give a second thought to.  Conversely, a wealthy person will definitely have disposable income, but will more likely tie that up in “investments” like stocks and bonds.  That activity does not necessarily add to more liquidity in the economy.

    Finally, I’ve already lost respect for Hagerty, because he lied on a major socio-economic issue.  When campaigning, he wholeheartedly supported a higher minimum wage.  Why the change?  Seems that he owes favors to his wealthy donors at the expense of the folks who actually voted for him.  Typical politician.  I didn’t vote for him nor will I vote for him in the next election.

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