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IL: Low Wage Daley Strikes Again

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley thinks Illinoisans should be making lower wages. Having vetoed the proposed Chicago ordinance to raise minimum wages for large retailers in that city, Daley has now joined the rightwing business camp and endorsed legislation to shut down higher local minimum wage laws across the country:

Daley defended his proposal for a national minimum wage that could not be increased locally, saying attempts to go above the minimum hamstring those localities that do so...The mayor disagrees on the issue with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has already implemented a statewide minimum wage of $6.50 an hour for workers over 18 and $6 for those under 18. The federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour.

Essentially, this is a version of what the GOP tried to pass this summer when they wanted to preempt local minimum wage laws that require direct wages for tipped workers above the federal requirement.

Jesse Jackson Jr., who may challenge Daley for the mayor's position, had this is to say in a press release sent out Friday:

"I am shocked that Mayor Richard M. Daley, a Democratic Mayor of a city and state of hardworking Democrats - after siding with Corporate Republicans on "Big-Box" - would again side with Corporate America's position on raising the national minimum wage...he came to Washington Wednesday and announced he wanted the minimum wage raised as a ceiling to benefit the corporations rather than as a floor to benefit the workers.

If Mayor Daley's `maximum minimum wage' proposal were in effect today, Illinois workers making the minimum wage would be making $5.15/hour instead of $6.50/hour because Illinois chose to raise the minimum wage. States and local communities should maintain their ability to increase their own minimum wage. That's important because the rightwing-controlled Congress and White House have refused to address the issue for over eight years.

The only reason we are seeing conservative leaders talking about raising the minimum wage nationally is because of the example of state and local governments taking independent action locally. For Daley to be promoting the kind of federal maximum wage law backed by the corporate rightwing is a rank betrayal of his working class constituents beyond imagining.

The sad thing is that in supporting this "maximum minimum wage," Daley advances far-right talking points about the minimum wage, saying state minimums "hamstring" the jurisdictions that endorse them. It's true. They get hamstrung with higher job growth.