DOUGLAS — Protestors swarmed Ald. Will Burns’ 4th Ward office Tuesday morning demanding he support a $15 minimum wage.
“We refuse to settle for the scraps that the mayor and his puppets throw at us whenever election time comes around,” said Adeline Bracey of Action Now.
The group of about 50 chanted and held up signs in front of Burns’ office at 435 E. 35th St. claiming that more than 88 percent of voters in his ward supported raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour in a March ballot measure in five of the ward’s precincts.
Burns supports slowly raising the minimum wage to $13 by 2018. He co-chaired the task force Mayor Rahm Emanuel convened to investigate whether the city’s minimum wage should be raised from $8.25 an hour.
“A $13 minimum wage will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of hardworking Chicagoans,” Burns said in a written statement Tuesday. “To draw the line in the sand at $15 ignores the impact on the small businesses who are finally experiencing growth here in the aftermath of the Great Recession.”
The protestors from Action Now, the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council and others claimed the minimum wage was also keeping budding entrepreneurs from starting businesses.
Brandon Askew of Englewood said he dropped out of school at Kennedy-King College because he couldn’t afford to go to school and support his four-year-old daughter on $8.25 an hour.
He had dreamed of starting a private detective agency, and said he still thinks about getting back to it during his 12-hour shifts stacking boxes of plastic cups and utensils as a temp for Elite Staffing.
Askew said he’s cut out all luxuries like haircuts and is forced to borrow money from friends and family whenever he has an unexpected expense.
“If I were to get a ticket this week, I wouldn’t eat this week,” Askew said. “My daughter, she would eat, but I probably wouldn’t.”
He said he wants to go back to school so he can start his own business, but can’t save up enough to enroll again.
Burns said a raise in the minimum wage to $13 would lift many Chicagoans out of poverty.
“We have the support of the mayor and 24 aldermen, including myself,” Burns said. “We know that $13 will improve the lives of countless hourly workers in Chicago without crippling small businesses.”
A competing ordinance supporting a $15 an hour minimum wage has been introduced by aldermen of the Progressive Reform Caucus.For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: