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Activists, officials come down on Illinois Governor over wage veto

Stephon Johnson | 8/31/2017, 11:03 a.m.
Last week, Illinois State Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would’ve increased his state’s minimum wage to $15 an ...
Fast food workers Mark Hill/CNN

Last week, Illinois State Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would’ve increased his state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. If Rauner had approved the bill, Illinois would’ve become the third state to increase the hourly wage to $15 after California and New York.

McDonald’s worker and Chicago Fight for $15 member Adriana Alvarez said that Rauner committed theft on the working class.

“Billionaire governor Bruce Rauner just stole food out of my son’s mouth and blocked raises for one in three working people across Illinois,” said Alvarez. “But this isn’t the end—it’s just the start. Our movement has raised wages for more than 20 million people across the country, and proved that when working people stand together, there’s nothing we can’t do. The millions of underpaid workers in this state will remember Rauner taking food off our families’ tables when we go to the polls in 2018.”

The bill, starting with a wage increase to $9 in January, would’ve gradually moved to $15 by the year 2022. Since 2010, Illinois’ minimum wage has been $8.25. Although the governor rejected this increase, he has vocally supported a modest wage raise. In the bill, seasonal/part-time workers under the age of 18 would’ve seen a minimum wage increase to $12.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley said by vetoing this bill, he set in motion his demise in next November’s election.

“Knowing this was wrong for Illinois he waited to the last minute and, with this veto, Gov. Rauner showed us once again who he is and what his vision is for Illinois: A permanent low-wage economy, where services and infrastructure are slashed, where workers are deprived of dignity and rights and where corporations call all the shots,” said Kelly.

Kelley continued, “In supporting the $15 wage bill, we understood that raising the wage isn’t a threat to jobs. In fact, it would have immediately provided a boost to the Illinois economy. It would have stopped the subsidy of corporations who don’t pay a living wage. It would have slowed population flight by making Illinois a wage oasis.”

The Illinois House of Representatives and State Senate approved of the $15 wage increase in 61-53 and 30-23 votes, respectively. Both chambers had two members who voted present. According to Illinois state law, 71 House votes and 36 Senate votes are needed to override the governor’s veto.

J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat running for governor of Illinois, lambasted Rauner for allegedly showing little care for those who live paycheck to paycheck.

“Once again, Rauner abandoned Illinois working men and women and stood in the way of progress for those striving to get into the middle class,” stated Pritzker. “It is time Illinois’ working families had a partner in Springfield who is committed to the Fight for 15. I know we need to raise the minimum wage to $15, and I will make sure Illinois workers have a seat at the table in the work ahead. Rauner’s veto reminds us that our fight is far from over, and I look forward to standing with Illinois families every step of the way.”

Will Guzzardi, a state representative, said the governor had put money over people.

“Once again, Gov. Rauner has shown that he’d rather project the profits of his corporate allies than help lift millions of Illinoisans out of poverty,” Guzzardi said. “We, the people of this state, know whose side the governor is on. It’s not ours.”