Chicago City Council votes to raise tipped worker minimum wage

Maher Kawash Image
Saturday, October 7, 2023
City council votes to raise tipped worker minimum wage
The Chicago City Council voted Friday on a proposal to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago City Council was in session Friday to make a decision about minimum wage for tipped workers in the city.

The council approved a measure to phase out the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.

There was a lot of energy at City Hall for the historic vote.

Businesses now have to prepare to pay the same minimum hourly wage to all employees, even if they earn tips.

Those who oppose the change say it could be detrimental to a number of small businesses that are already struggling.

Chicago is now the largest city in the country to eliminate sub-minimum wage.

"We're not done. We get a chance to work through dynamics and study patterns so we do right by everyone. We want businesses to thrive," Mayor Brandon Johnson said.

The council approved the measure Friday with a 36-10 vote in front of a packed chamber, with supporters of "One Fair Wage" showing up in numbers to express the importance of this change.

READ MORE | 'One Fair Wage' minimum wage for tipped workers plan passes city council committee

Some of them are former tip workers, and they are now overwhelmed with relief.

"I've lived here 51 years, raised my son. I'm a former tip worker. I worked all over Chicago," said Nataki Rhodes with "One Fair Wage.

Some aldermen expressed their concern with the change, which some business owners are calling unprecedented.

"My constituents there feel this is going to hurt more than it's going to help our local economy," 11th ward Ald. Nicole Lee said.

That same sentiment is being shared by the Illinois Restaurant Association. Scott Weiner is the Vice Chairman of their board and a co-owner of The Fifty/50 in Chicago.

Weiner said many restaurants and bars will now consider additional service charges to compensate for the additional wages.

"I know many guests don't appreciate a service charge, but our servers do appreciate a service charge, so we're gonna weigh both things," Weiner said. "But yes, ultimately it will become much more expensive to dine in the city of Chicago."

The first 8% increase goes into effect next July.