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Businesses pan Quinn’s plan to raise minimum wage to $10-an-hour

Jorge Armando  | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Jorge Armando | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 8, 2013 7:48AM



Several groups representing Illinois restaurants and independent businesses rejected Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal Wednesday to raise the state’s minimum wage — already higher than the federal $7.25 rate — from $8.25 to $10 an hour within the next four years.

They said such a hike would threaten their industries’ recoveries, especially when combined with national health-care reform costs. Local companies also are at a disadvantage because surrounding states such as Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin pay the federal $7.25 minimum wage and others, such as Michigan and Missouri, pay $7.40 and $7.35, respectively, business groups point out.

Two small business owners said they would have to either cut or scale back their work force if Illinois raised the minimum wage as Quinn proposed in his “State of the State” address.

Jorge Armando, owner of Cafe Society eatery at 1801 S. Indiana Ave., said he would be forced to fire his dishwasher — the sole worker on his four-person staff who makes minimum wage — and either spread the dishwashing work around or start using paper plates.

The four other employees earn between $9.75 and $12.50 an hour, but business is so tight, there is no wiggle room, he said. Employees also are suffering from higher taxes, he said, noting that the $10.50-an-hour employee is paying $200 a month more each month since federal payroll tax increase that took effect in January.

“We small businesses are tired of speeches,” Armando said. “We want to know how we are going to create jobs and stop more businesses from disappearing.”

Dan Sherry, owner of Kennedy’s Creative Awards trophy and awards business in Waukegan, said the minimum-wage increase would be a “real problem” for small businesses already under tremendous pressure to keep prices stable, and would cause him to cancel his pledge to keep his six employees working 40 hours a week and send people home, unpaid, during slow times.

Three of Sherry’s six employees make $8.50 to $10 an hour, while the other three make $12 to $15 an hour.

“I cringe at how people have to live on $18,000 a year, but at the same time, I have to keep my doors open and be competitive,” Sherry said.



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