Chicago City Council says no to wage theft, passes ordinance

Chicago City Council says no to wage theft, passes ordinance

Businesses in Chicago that try to cut costs by paying their workers below minimum wage or skimping on overtime are going to have to change their ways.

If they don’t, the businesses will lose their licenses under an ordinance that the City Council unanimously passed on Wednesday.

The ordinance aims to protect workers like Liliana Baca. She worked 60 hours a week at a grocery store on the North Side. But when her paycheck came, she was only paid for 40 hours of work.

"I worked from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and was off only one day a week," said Baca. At $8.25 an hour, "it was still hard to make ends meet."

She isn't the only one. According to the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois Chicago, missed wages from workers like Baca amounted to $7.3 million a week in Cook County.

And it's widespread. The study found that over 60 percent of workers are underpaid by more than $1 an hour while 67 percent were not paid their legally required overtime rate.

Alderman Ameya Pawar, one of the cosponsors, said he expects the ordinance to help the economy.

"The $7 million lost a week in wage theft could be spent in shops and to pay wage taxes," he said.

 

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