Lincolnwood to follow county sick leave law, not hourly wage
by JASON MEREL
The Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at its meeting Jan. 7 repealed a 2017 village law exempting it from following Cook County rules to allow for earned paid sick leave for workers but voted against increasing the minimum wage to current county standards.
Effective July 1, workers in Lincolnwood under the county jurisdiction will be able to accrue up to 5 sick days per year. Workers will need to work at least 80 hours during a 120-day period to qualify for sick leave.
"This public health issue is interestingly timed as we are entering our next flu season," a physician in attendance said. "No one wants their barista, their nurse, their line cook or their librarian to come to work sick."
The village voted to not follow county rules approved in 2016 to increase the minimum wage to $13 effective July 1 and other increases in the future. The village will continue to adhere to the state’s minimum wage ordinance that will increase the minimum wage to $9.25 through June 30, to $10 from July 1 to Dec. 31, to $11 in 2021, $12 in 2022, $13 in 2023, $14 in 2024 and to $15 in 2025.
"The county’s (minimum wage ordinance) is aggressive, unreasonable and will have a negative impact on my business," a business owner told the board during a public forum.
Other business owners said they supported higher wages for workers but did not think the board should require businesses to adhere to the Cook County minimum wage ordinance, noting that businesses are free to pay more than the minimum wage and suggested that in some industries, paying only the state minimum wage makes the business less competitive when attracting skilled workers and that the market would sort these businesses out in time.
A resident said, "No one has discussed one of the most important aspects of going along with the county ordinance, which is the respect and pride that the people who live in Lincolnwood will have as opposed to the embarrassment so many of us will have if this ordinance going along with the county law fails."
Several Lincolnwood residents and business owners spoke in favor of adopting the Cook County minimum wage ordinance.
"I’m here tonight fighting, not for poor people sitting on a corner somewhere, but for full time workers who are still living in poverty," a business owner said. "(Business owners opposed to the Cook County minimum wage ordinance) are fighting for the right to pay poverty wages to full time employees."
A resident told the board, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Well, you need to stock the pond in order for that to happen."
"Nobody has spoken, throughout this process, about how opting out and keeping the lowest minimum wage in Cook County and the surrounding areas, benefits Lincolnwood and what that says about Lincolnwood," Trustee Jesal Patel said.
Trustee Georjean Hlepas- Nickell expressed concerns that adopting the Cook County minimum wage ordinance would cause businesses to move to nearby municipalities that have opted out, citing sources that say some nearby municipalities have already approached Lincolnwood businesses for this reason. Trustee Nickell also took issue with the language of the Cook County minimum wage ordinance, saying, "I can’t support this proposal in its current form. I think it’s hypocritical for the village to sit here and mandate businesses to do something and then exempt ourselves and our employees." Some people are exempt from the wage increase ordinance.
"Without businesses, there are no jobs," Trustee Ronald Cope said. "The amount of the minimum wage becomes an empty exercise if businesses close down or if employees are laid off."
Also at the meeting, the trustees passed an amendment to the village code regarding compliance with the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. The amendment adjusts the code to allow the lawful possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia as well as addressing civil penalties for violations of the act. As amended, the village code establishes a fine between $200 and $500 for each violation.
Also at the meeting, the board approved several ordinances granting variations including a variation related to driveway spacing at 6724 N. Lawndale Ave., an ordinance approving variations related to parking capacity and parking lot landscaping for a planned development in the 3700 block of West Devon Avenue, and an ordinance granting a design for a new single-family home in the 6600 block of North Kilpatrick Avenue.
A zoning officer previously denied the design of the home and the Zoning Board of Appeals recommended reversing the zoning officer’s decision.