Evanston’s City Council continued its campaign to increase business regulation Monday night, giving final approval to two restrictive ordinances.

Both were sponsored by Ald. Devon Reid (8th), who appeared to signal interest in a future restriction by wearing to the Council meeting a sweatshirt from the “One Fair Wage” organization.

That group seeks to eliminate lower minimum wages for tipped workers and to enact a $25 minimum wage by the 250th anniversary of the issuance of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

The “Fair Workweek” ordinance, which imposes extensive worker scheduling restrictions, was amended Monday on motions of Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) to exclude landscaping services from the list of covered industries and to raise the minimum employee count that would trigger the rules from 15 to 100 for most remaining industries.

Mayor Daniel Biss said the initial ordinance Reid proposed “went way beyond what’s been done elsewhere” and the series of changes adopted as the council considered the measure “put the city back in line” with what’s been done in communities like Chicago, where a “Fair Workweek” ordinance has been in effect since 2020.

Here’s a chart showing how the industries covered by the ordinance have changed since it was proposed and how the list compares with Chicago’s ordinance.

Industry coveredChicagoEvanston (v.1)Evanston (v.2)Evanston (v.3)Evanston as adopted
Building servicesYesNoYesYesYes
Food serviceYesYesYesYesYes
Landscaping servicesNoYesYesYesNo
Nursing homesYesYesYesNoNo
Warehouse servicesYesYesYesYesYes

The amended “Fair Workweek” measure was adopted on a 6-2 vote with Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) and Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) voting no.

Harris suggested it was unwise to impose a bunch of new taxes and regulations on businesses as the city was coming out of a pandemic.

Nieuwsma said the city is spending a lot of money on its “Evanston Thrives” program to try to revive business activity and that this is not the right time to impose new burdens on local businesses.

The bag ordinance bans the use of plastic single-use point-of-sale bags and non-compostable pre-checkout bags in all retail establishments.

It also requires that paper bags used must be recyclable with at least 40% post-consumer recycled content.

And it and imposes a 10-cent-per-bag tax on single-use point-of-sale bags at non-restaurant chain retail establishments over 10,000 square feet in size.

The new rules take effect Aug. 1.

The bag ordinance was approved 8-0. Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) was absent for both votes.

With Monday’s votes the City Council has adopted six measures over the last two years that increase business regulations, compared to three that would reduce them.

About two dozen more proposals to increase and three to reduce business regulations are still working their way through the city’s review process.

Here’s a listing of the business regulatory proposals and their status.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. It will be interesting to see how this impacts various retail establishments. Will shoppers be motivated to go outside of Evanston?
    Probably a good idea to study this 6 months after the ban goes into effect. Is the bag tax an example of death by 1,000 cuts?

  2. Unbelievable!!

    Absolutely no call or reason for the so called
    “Fair Work Week”.

    If I were your boss, you each would be fired, with of course the required “job in jeopardy “ notice, approved by HR, and followed step by step.

    It’s unlikely that any of you would be hired in any businesses small or large.

    Seriously, Evanston leadership’s priorities are flabbergasting.

  3. After 23 years of living in Evanston, I’m moving out on June 30. I will miss Evanston but not the crazy city council or its ordinances. I can’t believe some of these ordinances brought up for consideration.

  4. Excellent work by the council. They may finally kill off the struggling businesses that remain to make more room for gambling, smoking and all manners of vice based, morally corrupt, and publicly funded ventures. And when all the residents subsequently move out, we’ll then have even more room for huckster faux social support organizations that buy alderperson votes!

  5. Anyone find it ironic that our city adopts business ideas/ordinances proposed and pushed by an individual who cannot responsibly “manage” to satisfy his own lease agreement with his landlord without asking a local nonprofit to pay his rent? (And then votes in favor of said nonprofit’s expansion without recusing himself). Funny stuff happens in E-town.

  6. This will all come back on the consumer, it always does. Just like “taxing the rich” always comes back on the middle/lower class.

    I am seeing more and more businesses now charging the consumer the credit card processing fees and other taxes/fees that they are being forced to pay. They have to, they don’t have a choice. It’s either that or fire their employees. They need their employees so they have to push this on to the consumer. It’s crazy out there.

    Evanston is a great city to live in, it really is. We, the people, are the ones that make it great. Our leaders have to be one of the worst in the state and that falls on us, falls on all of us. It’s our fault. We, the people, elected them. We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

    I feel bad for the businesses that will be getting pinched even more. Every single penny counts right now.

  7. If I wasn’t convinced our city is run by completely unqualified lunatics before, there’s no question now. They are thirsty for media attention similar to when we became the first city to pay reparations. There will be plenty of room for the unhoused when businesses close. Load up the buses and ship them in! I think I just heard my property value sink another 50k and my assessment better shrink accordingly.

  8. Thank you Ald. Revelle for moving to amend the ordinance so that it applied to businesses with at least 100 employees instead of 15.

    FWW laws are not new and there are tools to help employers comply, but that is an overhead cost that would be harder to absorb for small shops.

    I expect there are questions about how to comply in certain situations that are not clear based on the language in the ordinance. For example, if employee calls and requests a shift for the same day, and the employer give one without paying a higher wage or penalty for not providing enough advance notice? If I worked at a place which would operate shorthanded whenever someone called in sick, and wanted more hours I would probably call in and ask for work. What if the employer published open slots in the schedule within the next 2 weeks. Could employees choose to sign up allowing the employer to avoid the wage penalty? There are probably more questions based on how long FWW laws have been around.

    Getting legal or consulting advice on how to adjust management practices will be another overhead cost.

  9. Evanston continues its relentless war on business. Does the council really believe that the city and its workers will benefit from driving business out of Evanston

  10. A current phrase we hear is “doom loop”*, which refers to poor economic and social policies which lead to the degrading and diminution of urban core areas – see “San Francisco, Portland, LA, NYC, Seattle, Chicago”…

    Even though we are much smaller, our City Council and their “allies” seem intent on pushing Evanston into a local “doom loop” – and these hare – brained economic/social policies are a huge factor…

    Here is an article about San Francisco’s “doom loop”, a short excerpt; Michael Shellenberger has also written much about this, see his book “San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities”:


    Spiraling in San Francisco’s Doom Loop – What it’s like to live in a city that no longer believes its problems can be fixed.

    “San Francisco often seems to operate like an incompetent parent, confusing compassion and permissiveness…

    …the San Francisco Chronicle ran an article: “Cities Are Struggling. San Francisco Could Be in the Biggest ‘Doom Loop’ of All.” The phrase “doom loop” was recently repopularized by Arpit Gupta, a finance professor at NYU, in a paper he wrote last year with two Columbia B-school professors called “Work From Home and the Office Real Estate Apocalypse,” about the consequences for American downtowns of workers remaining remote…

    The doom-loopy vision laid out for downtown SF was not pretty: Workers don’t return, offices remain empty, restaurants shutter, transit agencies go bankrupt, tax bases plummet, public services disappear. According to research from the University of Toronto, cell-phone activity in downtown SF is 32 percent of pre-pandemic levels. That number is 75 percent in New York…”


    “In 2021, Shellenberger published “San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities”, a criticism of progressive social policies… Manhattan Institute fellow Charles Fain Lehman summarized Shellenberger’s topic: “Many major municipalities are marred by violent crime, homelessness, uncontrolled mental illness, and general disorder. This all in spite of an ever-advancing cadre of progressive leaders, who promise their latest tax hike will finally target the ‘root causes’ of the breakdown…”

    Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

  11. My initial reaction resembles most of those posted here – that this seems like an unwise restriction in a town trying to rebuild its business base – but I might be wrong.

    Would EvanstonNow please consider posting an estimate – if it hasn’t already in past articles – of how many Evanston businesses employ 100+ people?

    While this legislation sounds onerous to me, it might be less so if it applies only to, say, big-box stores that have more sophisticated schedule-management technology than most smaller businesses.

    On a side note: I find it absurd that Ald. Reid wears, to a council meeting, the logo of an organization that’s lobbying the council on a matter up for a vote. Not out of character, but absurd.

  12. Fair Work Week = Solution in search of a problem. Where is the hard data? Does the City Council really know better than businesses, and their employees, how to best schedule employees?

  13. What the heck has happened to Evanston? I used to be proud of our city. Now I’m ashamed. Week by week, ordinance by ordinance, our inept and ignorant city leaders are taking a once vibrant town and turning it into place that’s unfriendly to business, unfriendly to homeowners, unfriendly to all but the fringes of society. I’ve never been politically active, but you can count on me being out there come election time, giving my time, money, and effort to ridding the city of every incumbent, from the Mayor on down.

    1. Channah, I agree! I moved to Evanston from Chicago years ago, but aside from voting, I never got very politically involved. Evanston is much smaller, and so the issues we face are much more magnified and thus visible. I’m very adamant that Evanston remain the nice town that it shoul be, but our civic culture here is being degraded and attacked by some of the Evanston politicos and their “allies” here in town. So I’m involved in zoning issues, speaking up about “quality of life” issues, and the like. I don’t have kids, but I follow the local education scene very closely, vote for board members, etc…

      I see our nice City of Evanton slouching towards becoming a “woke” mini – version of Seattle, Portland or San Francisco if some of the local trends continue, so it’s vital that each of us speak up and take action when we can…

      Gregory Morrow – 4th Ward resident

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