Attorney and former Western Springs board president says state, not county, should set minimum wage

By John Sammon | May 27, 2017

CHICAGO — The outgoing president of the Western Springs Village Board said the State of Illinois, and not counties, should set policy with regard to setting a minimum wage and sick leave policy to avoid a confused hodgepodge of differing pay scales.

“It’s not the county’s authority to do it,” William Rodeghier, former Western Springs village president as of May 22, and an attorney in Chicago, told the Cook County Record.

Western Springs is a Chicago suburb in Cook County.

Last fall, Cook County enacted an ordinance raising the minimum wage in phases, from $8.25 per hour to $10, and then $13 by 2020. The county also approved an ordinance mandating employers provide employees with up to five days of paid sick leave each year.

The city of Chicago passed similar ordinances.

In response, the Western Springs Village Board of Trustees earlier this month joined a growing number of other suburban Cook County communities to vote to opt out of the ordinances and stay on the minimum wage set by the state. Municipalities, both home-rule and non-home-rule, were allowed to reject the county plan if they chose, before June 1.

Rodeghier said the idea was discussed before the Western Springs Village Board with a number of business and labor representatives and concerned citizens offering their opinions. In the end, two trustees of the six-member board disagreed, but the proposal passed by a vote of 4-2.  

During testimony before a committee held to discuss the matter, some employers expressed concerns that they would not be able to hire as many young people if the minimum wage was raised. Others expressed concern that differing pay scales among municipalities could attract workers to the higher-paying areas.  

Those in favor of the wage increases contended that rejecting the county plan would show a lack of concern for the ability of workers to have a livable wage.   

Rodeghier said he favors the minimum wage increase, but added it should be up to the state to set a uniform policy.

Other suburbs that have opted out of the plan include Barrington, Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect, among others.

Rodeghier stepped down down this week as village president. Three new members of the board plus a new president were seated on May 22. Bills proposing a minimum wage increase are pending at the state level, and if officials at the state set a new minimum wage rate, it could invalidate that of Cook County.

“You don’t want villages with different sets of (pay) rules,” Rodeghier said. “You could have a person working in six different areas, getting six different pay scales. Who wants a bunch of counties paying workers different rates?”

Editor's note: This article has been revised to correct an earlier error indicating La Grange had been among the suburbs to opt out of Cook County's ordinances. In fact, La Grange opted to take no action on the question, leaving the county's ordinances to apply.

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City of Chicago Cook County State of Illinois Village of Western Springs Western Springs Board of Trustees

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