A group of 43 Evanston restaurant owners are seeking modifications to a new minimum wage ordinance City Council is scheduled to vote on Monday night.
The measure would give employees of Evanston businesses with more than 50 employees the highest minimum wage in the region — $16.25 — starting next July.
The minimum wage for businesses with four to 50 employees would be 75-cents less, at $15.50 an hour.
The restaurant owners are seeking to eliminate an automatic annual increase in the minimum wage tied to the consumer price index.
(Under the ordinance, the CPI-based increase would be capped at 2.5% and then rounded up to the next 5-cent mark.)
They note that the proposed $15.50 rate for smaller businesses next year represents nearly a 14% increase over the current minimum wage in Evanston, which is the Cook County minimum wage rate.
The letter says, “It would be more prudent for the City Council to periodically assess and adjust the minimum wage rate based on local economic conditions and community needs.”
The letter also opposes the two-tier wage scale saying it would discourage small businesses from pursuing growth opportunities.
If there’s going to be a tiered system, the restaurant owners suggest, it should only apply to firms with more than 100 employees, double the current threshold.
The letter also criticizes the lack in the proposed ordinance of something that is included in the Chicago and Cook County ordinances — a lower minimum wage rate for workers 17 and younger.
The owners say minors “require more supervision, support, training and guidance, which comes at a cost for employers.”
Not having a lower minimum for young workers, they say, will discourage employers from hiring younger workers.
Owners of Blind Fair Cafe, Hecky’s Barbecue, LeTour, Lucky Platter and Peckish Pig are among those signing the letter.
The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday.