Evanston’s Human Services Committee is scheduled Monday night to again debate raising the city’s minimum wage and eliminating the lower minimum for tipped workers.

The proposal, pushed by Ald. Devon Reid (8th), was tabled at the committee’s August meeting amid concerns from several members about an adverse impact on local restaurants if businesses in neighboring communities had lower wage structures.

Since then Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has indicated his support for a five-year phase out of the lower tipped wage that the Chicago Sun-Times reports would give restaurateurs there time to swallow a 66% increase in labor costs.

The Chicago City Council is scheduled to vote on the tipped wage issue on Oct. 17.

The current draft of the Evanston ordinance would eliminate the lower tipped wage immediately, but a staff memo notes that “amendments that reflect ongoing legislative action in the City of Chicago and Cook County may be necessary or prudent.

The proposed Evanston ordinance would raise the minimum wage for businesses with more than 50 employees to $16.25 per hour next July, with cost-of-living based increases every year after that. The rate would be 75-cents lower for businesses with from four to 50 employees.

Elimination of the tipped wage has drawn broad support from progressive groups, but some restaurant workers who make much more than the minimum in tips now say it could ultimately cut their pay or lead to job losses as diners react to higher prices and new service charges.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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