CHICAGO (WLS) -- After battling through the pandemic to keep the South Side restaurant he owns with his mother open, Victor Love said he's now joining the fight to do away with the state's below-minimum wage paid to waitresses, bartenders, and other tipped service workers.
"It's the right thing to do. People cannot continue to live on substandard wages," said Love, the owner of Josephine's Southern Cooking.
Love said he already pays his workers at $12 an hour, although he doesn't have to.
Activists used International Women's Day Tuesday to rally and call for an end to the lower minimum wage paid to waitresses, bartenders, and tipped service workers.
"It's hard for us workers who would like to go back to work, but they're not raising the wage," said Jewel Simmons, a former restaurant worker.
The workers and their supporters are calling on the state legislature to pass House Bill 5139.
Introduced by State Representative Camille Lilly, a democrat from Chicago, it would push the minimum wage for workers who supplement their wages with tips to the state's minimum wage.
"We know that Latinas are some of the lowest paid workers in the entire United States," said State Representative Delia Ramirez, (D) Chicago.
Illinois is on track to increase the state's minimum wage to $15 for general workers and $9 an hour for tipped workers by 2025.
Servers and bartenders who receive tips currently earn a $7.20 an hour minimum wage.
"The seven states that have eliminated the sub-minimum wage, harassment decreased by half," said Wendy Pollack, with the Shriver Center on Poverty Law.
In response to the bill, the Illinois Restaurant Association released a statement that said in part: "Legally, no tipped worker can ever make less than the full minimum wage through the combination of their wages and tips, and tipped workers typically make far beyond the minimum wage. Imposing a massive labor cost increase on struggling restaurants would accelerate the rate of business closures and job losses in the hospitality community across Illinois."