Daniel Biss.

Evanston’s Human Service Committee voted Monday night to drop nursing homes and childcare providers from a proposed “Fair Workweek” ordinance.

Mayor Daniel Biss suggested the changes after representatives of the city’s three major life care communities said it would aggravate severe staffing issues and raise costs for residents at their facilities and a leader of an organization of Evanston childcare providers said no one from the city had contacted his group about the ordinance.

The Evanston “Fair Workweek” proposal is patterned in part on a “Fair Workweek” ordinance that went into effect in 2020 in the City of Chicago.

Here’s how the industries covered by the Evanston plan compare to Chicago’s, and how they have shifted since the idea was initially proposed by Ald. Devon Reid (8th) at an Economic Development Committee meeting a year ago.

Industry coveredChicagoEvanston (v.1)Evanston (v.2)Evanston (v.3)
Building servicesYesNoYesYes
Food serviceYesYesYesYes
Landscaping servicesNoYesYesYes
Nursing homesYesYesYesNo
Warehouse servicesYesYesYesYes

A representative of the Service Employees International Union sent the committee a letter opposing the move to drop nursing homes from the ordinance.

David Murlette.

David Murlette, a senior vice president at The Mather, said that because of health guidelines the organization encourages workers to stay off work whenever they feel sick, which means The Mather has to find other workers on very short notice to cover those shifts to maintain adequate staffing levels.

In addition, he said, the pandemic-triggered “great resignation” has created a severe shortage of caregivers.

Steven Vick.

Steven Vick, executive director of the Infant Welfare Society and vice chair of the Evanston Early Childhood Council, had shown up at the meeting to advocate for an honorary street name for one of the Infant Welfare Society’s long-time workers.

He said he wasn’t in a position to debate the merits of the “Fair Workweek” ordinance because it was the first he’d heard of it, but that there undoubtedly was a reason Chicago had exempted the industry from its ordinance and that childcare providers continue to have huge staffing challenges.

After considerable debate, Mayor Biss suggested that the core of the ordinance was to protect retail workers, an industry where scheduling abuses by large employers have been most widely documented.

He recommended that the committee drop the childcare and nursing home industries, and advance to the full City Council a measure that was most likely to win approval there.

That proposal passed on a 3-2 vote with Reid and Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) voting against it.

Burns then won unanimous approval from the committee to revisit the issue of whether to include those industries toward the end of this year.

The proposed Evanston ordinance is in several respects more restrictive than the Chicago ordinance that inspired it.

Chicago requires employers to give 10 days notice of schedule changes, Evanston would require 14 days notice.

Chicago’s ordinance only covers workers making less than $26 an hour. Evanston’s ordinance would cover all of an employer’s workers.

Except for the food service industry, Chicago’s ordinance only covers businesses with more than 100 total employees. Evanston’s ordinance would cover businesses with 15 or more employees in those industries as well as franchise businesses with fewer than 15 employees if the franchisor had more than 30 locations globally.

For food service businesses, Chicago covers only businesses with at least 250 total employees and 30 or more locations. Evanston would lower the employee count for coverage to 200 workers. However it creates an exemption from the ordinance for restaurants with three or fewer locations in the city “that are owned by one employer and operating under a sole franchise.”

Chicago’s ordinance requires a minimum of a 10 hour gap between shifts, Evanston’s would require an 11 hour gap.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. The problem is that we do not live in a bubble and are competing with other towns to retain and attract businesses, many of which can and will consider relocating if the city makes conditions unattractive to run a business. We need to benchmark and look closely at what Skokie and Wilmette are doing. And for those businesses seemingly captively anchored here such as healthcare providers with large infrastructure investments in place, we need to closely consider things from the business point of view, and what any changes will result in for additional staff shortages and/or significant increases in costs that will need to be passed on to customers through higher prices (and customers also have a choice of where to do business). The free market has a great solution to these things, in that if the grass is greener elsewhere, workers are free to go there and many will, which would drive any changes in business policy that are truly warranted.

    1. The free market doesn’t have a great solution to these things, the problem is solving it piecemeal as we do in this country will not lead to great outcomes for Evanston. These things need to be done at least on a state if not nationwide level. That is why, for example, the ADA creates effective change because all businesses are equally mandated.

  2. Oh, the irony. “Fair Workweek” regulations proposed by Devon Reid, who seems to have a lifetime allergy to participating the private sector, although he wouldn’t mind telling everyone else what to do. No leadership credibility here. Magic Mushrooms and 24 hour-a-day parks. What could possibly go wrong?

  3. If the administrative burden is too onerous and punitive for healthcare and childcare, and for the City of Evanston employees, why isn’t it too onerous and punitive for the other categories?

    No one seems to be considering that there is a 3-year record-keeping requirement, including maintaining documentation. For example, if Joey and Amber swap shifts on Saturday at Starbucks, Starbucks now has to maintain documentation for three years that both Joey and Amber agreed to swap shifts. True compliance will be *extremely* challenging and it is really a way to play ‘gotcha’ on employers and then fine them and expose them to civil liability.

    The SEIU is salivating over this ordinance that *no one is asking for besides Biss and Reid*. Finally, naturally it has to be more burdensome than the Chicago ordinance, because… Evanston.

    If you were deciding where to locate your new business, would you think harder about Evanston over Skokie? Looking at you, Evanston Subaru in Skokie.

  4. Where to post a global comment about the inexorable decline of Evanston in less than 24 short months?

    This is as good as any, looking at the pained expression on the face of “Carpetbagger” Biss on this post, suggesting a compromise on the Fair Work ordinance.

    Carpetbagger defined in this case as a career elected job hopper burnishing left of Bernie bonafides, campaigning for VEEP candidate with Pritzker or Newsom in some future cycle.

    Nonsense !

    Evanston Now reader comments clearly indicate citizens don’t want:

    Fair Work regs, pot lounges, mushrooms, nude beaches, onerous vs simple bag laws, onerous vs practical blower laws, rock throwers, Connections for Homeless anywhere in town, no homeless shelter in the Margarita Inn!

    What else?

    Certainly nobody wants to hear another word from Alder Reid – behaving like a ne’er-do-well, who by the way, was elected by just 630 votes, but now effectively runs a town of 75,000, and when a drug forward initiative gets reasoned pushback, he pouts, plays the race card, in calling out fellow council members and majority Evanstonians as racist.


    Throw out the whole bunch – Mayor and council now!

    In no way are they listening or working for betterment of this town.

    They are destroying Evanston

    Get involved people!

    This has to stop.

    It’s gone on way too long.

    1. Excellent summary of the problems. Reid is a grifter and proposing things which the citizens of our fair city don’t want or need. Use the money for public safety, paving the streets etc. Basics.
      Amen, Bill!

    2. Get up Evanston residents, get informed and active! These are your tax dollars and your local businesses that are being messed over! We need to support our local business because they support and provide jobs and services for us all! Bill is on point!

  5. Perhaps if Biss and Reid had ANY experience as business owners or even employees of real businesses, and not government or academia, they might have a slight understanding of the absurdity of their proposal. They simply will not rest until they drive this City into the ground.

  6. I commented earlier – and those of you who supported the earlier post here – or mine on other topics recently – a huge thank you!

    The alder that has been a dogmatic, straightforward and honorable tireless servant of the people – in my 52 years here, is Edmund “Eb” Moran, a solid thinker and advocate for all – organically – without today’s seemingly obligatory “virtue signal” – wear you flag, one way or another – first – before anything of substance.

    Next – the erasable 8th Ward stalwart Ann Rainey –

    “the longest serving alderman in Evanston history” – for so long the voice of reason – in her own style – that is completely lacking in today’s council.

    Please come back Ann – and 8th warders – she is your champion.

    As I’m re-reading all the comments on this topic:

    Please Mayor Biss, Alder Reid, Alder Wynn:

    Understand that you already, with a flick of the hand, have squandered staff hours and attention on an issue with zero groundswell of support (as were leaf blowers) on an issue that the domain of the state or nation – based on scope – peoples affected.

    Mayor – don’t you have a bully pulpit to direct? If not what is you purpose?

    The ideas of a “Fair Work” ordnance, whatever merits it may have, (few if one is a climber vs. a taker, like, lets say, a Michael Jordan – cannot apply to a single town.

    As we like to say:

    “That is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer”

    Mayor, council – kindly stick to issues of this city.

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