One Fair Wage Ordinance Approved by City Council
Proposal to phase out Chicago’s subminimum wage for tipped workers passes City Council, representing a major win for the Johnson Administration, working Chicagoans and families.
CHICAGO — Today, the Chicago City Council approved the One Fair Wage ordinance, a proposal to phase out the City’s subminimum wage for tipped workers over a five-year period.
“The One Fair Wage ordinance embodies Chicago’s values of uplifting working people and addressing systemic inequities in the restaurant and hospitality industry, which in turn, will create a better economic future for tipped workers and our city,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “This legislation is the culmination of years of advocacy and outreach by the One Fair Wage coalition, restaurant workers, and advocates, and will help address and support our work around youth unemployment and staffing in the restaurant industry.
“I’m grateful to the many alderpeople, the One Fair Wage coalition, and all of the workers and advocates who made this a historic day for Chicago.”
The legislation will provide for the wages of tipped workers such as restaurant servers, bartenders, bussers and runners who earn a subminimum wage of $9.48 per hour to increase by 8 percent per year until it reaches parity with Chicago’s standard hourly minimum wage of $15.80. By increasing wages, this ordinance can also address the restaurant industry’s staffing crisis and increase opportunities for youth employment.
Today’s passage was a negotiation between Mayor Brandon Johnson, the City Council, the One Fair Wage campaign, and the Illinois Restaurant Association. Introduced by 26th Ward Alderperson Jessie Fuentes, the legislation progressed from the City Council’s Committee on Workforce Development in a 9-3 vote.
In addition to the legislation, One Fair Wage, a national non-profit organization, will provide capacity-building grants to small or BIPOC-owned businesses to support this transition for full-service restaurants with tipped workers that may be especially impacted.
“We are beyond thrilled that, under the visionary and courageous leadership of Mayor Brandon Johnson, Chicago City Council Floor Leader Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and Chicago bill sponsor Jessie Fuentes, the City of Chicago is about to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers,” said Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage. “Nearly one hundred years after the Pullman car porters won One Fair Wage in Chicago, the Black women who are the majority of tipped workers in Chicago are finally about to win a full, livable wage plus tips. This incredible victory is not only going to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans and help small businesses by bringing workers back into the restaurant industry; it's also going to kick off a series of wins for low-wage service workers in cities and states across the country that will raise wages for millions nationwide.”
“The One Fair Wage win demonstrates that Chicago values the labor of our workers. We have declared that their work is dignified and worthy of a fair wage,” said Alderperson Jessie Fuentes, freshman City Council member and the sponsor of the One Fair Wage ordinance. “This vote will lead to a stronger economy and a safer city, especially for our Black and Brown families."
"A rising tide lifts all boats. Decades of research shows that One Fair Wage with tips on top is good for restaurant workers and good for the restaurant industry,” said Alderperson Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. “We should all celebrate that low-wage restaurant workers will get a raise thanks to the leadership of Mayor Brandon Johnson, the Chicago City Council, and a diverse coalition of tipped workers and high road restaurants who worked to make this change possible."
"As Chair of the City Council's Committee on Workforce Development, today's passage of the One Fair Wage ordinance is a culmination of years of collaboration with colleagues, advocates, and community to create a better economic future for workers," said Workforce Development Committee Chair Alderperson Mike Rodriguez. "I look forward to implementing this legislation and continuing to fight alongside workers to raise wages and enhance our economy."
“Today’s vote is important as the city council works to make sure that a day’s work pays a fair wage,” said Alderperson Desmond Yancy. “Workers should never have to rely on the kindness of strangers to ensure that have money left over at the end of the month.”
“Today marks a meaningful step towards improving the financial stability of Chicago’s workers,” said Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Kenneth J. Meyer. “This amendment is a direct investment in the people of Chicago. Eliminating the tipped wage credit for tipped workers will improve working and living conditions for workers, empowering them to contribute more to their local communities and foster economic vitality.”
“It is always the right time to do the right thing for tipped and all workers in our communities, our city and state. Let Chicago lead the way!” said Jaquie Algee, Director of External Relations at SEIU HCII.
Restaurants participating in One Fair Wage’s High Road Kitchen’s program will commit to going through a training program run by One Fair Wage and will receive grant disbursements for each phase of training completed. The program is designed to support businesses that do not have existing infrastructure to manage this type of change.