La Grange Residents Celebrate Saving Paid Sick Days and Minimum Wage

Arise Chicago (CIMC Repost)

March to Village Hall to thank Board for listening to voters

LA GRANGE, IL--In the midst of a growing snow storm, last night dozens of La Grange residents gathered at First Congregational Church in downtown La Grange. They made handmade signs showing their support for Cook County paid sick days and minimum wage increase. Other signs expressed gratitude to the Village Board for keeping La Grange a caring community. The group then gathered outside in the snow, and marched to Village Hall chanting “Ho ho, hey hey, worker rights are here to stay!” gaining attention from passersby and restaurant goers on South La Grange Road.

The march came one month after the La Grange Village Board presented a draft ordinance threatening to opt out of the Cook County paid sick days and minimum wage ordinances--and any future similar ordinances. Shortly after that meeting, community members, including those who are part of Indivisible La Grange/La Grange Park, began organizing. Supported by workers’ rights organization, Arise Chicago, the local residents formed the La Grange Working Families Committee to collectively share their concerns, and act to save both worker protections.

Once the group arrived at Village Hall they shared stories of why they joined the Committee and took action to save La Grange paid sick days and the county minimum wage.

Brecken Cutler, a member of Indivisible La Grange/La Grange Park shared how keeping both ordinances was democratic.

“I'm here tonight as a member of Indivisible LaGrange/LaGrange Park and the Working Families Committee to thank the Village Board and President Livingston for listening to residents like me--who are part of the vast majority of La Grange voters who support paid sick days and a minimum wage for local workers. “The voters of LaGrange have spoken on these issues in 2014 and 2016 referendums and overwhelmingly support treating the lowest paid among us with dignity.”

“As drafted, the so-called opt-out ordinance proposed at your February 13th meeting, would have not only blocked workers from receiving the currently proposed Cook County minimum wage and paid sick leave, but also ALL future county-level wage and sick leave ordinances. So it is for both the current protections, and potential future protections, that I celebrate your decision to embrace ethical benefits for La Grange workers. I am so proud that our Village Board listened to the research, listened to the will of its residents”

Eighteen-year-old Nathan Crewe-Kluge agreed saying he voted for paid sick days in the 2016 non-binding ballot referendum.

“I was heartened when Cook County passed the new minimum wage. And I voted in the 2016 referendum for paid sick days. I represent the majority--the vast majority--the 73% of La Grange voters who want paid sick days. When I heard La Grange may opt out, it made me feel like my city didn’t support me, and that my voice and my vote didn’t matter. I’m now so proud to know that my elected officials listen to residents. Proud to know that my voice and vote do matter.”

Residents also gave testimony at the Village Board meeting, sharing why they supported both ordinances, and thanking trustees for listening to voters.

Siobhan Greene is originally from La Grange, and is now raising her family there. She was also concerned when she heard about the Village potentially stripping away rights.

“I work in childcare and early childhood education. I’ve experienced first hand what happens when parents don’t have paid sick days. I’ve had to hold a sick child and say, ‘sorry, Mommy can’t come right now’ knowing that this mother risks losing her job by picking up her sick child. This is heartbreaking and no one should have to make that choice.”

“I’m a proud resident of La Grange. I grew up here, and am proud to live here now as an adult, raising my family. I’m even more proud of my hometown this evening, knowing that we will live up to our reputation as a thriving, caring community.”

Long-time resident, active community and Indivisible La Grange/La Grange Park member Jim Longino voiced that fair workplace policies are not only good for workers, but for the community and its reputation.

“If everyone operated fairly we wouldn't worry about making sure sick leave and fair wages were provided. But some unscrupulous people will take advantage of the absence and cause others to have their business at a competitive disadvantage and thus disadvantage workers. And more importantly, treating employees fairly should never be considered a ‘disadvantage’.”

He went on to thank the board, and also remind them that individuals and groups like Indivisible will continue to actively participate in local issues.

“I would like to thank the board for reviewing the positions and considered the impact dropping out of the county ordinances would have unfairly presented, not only to our workers here, but the message it would have sent about us to the larger community.”

“You've done the right thing tonight and I look forward to having your official position of supporting and adhering to the county ordinance for minimum wage and earned sick leave read into the record. I also believe in holding our village officials accountable and they should always be on the forefront of working to better our people and village through actions and future policies.”

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