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Chicago: Eateries At Midway Seek ‘Living Wages’
Southwest News Herald
Amanda Drapiewski

March 4, 2011
View the Original Article

Concession stand workers at Midway Airport are seeking pay raises.

Labor’s Chicago City Council allies are seeking concessionaires to pay their employees a “living wage” of $11.03 an hour.

Living wage is a term used to describe the minimum hourly wage necessary for an individual to meet basic needs, including shelter (housing) and other incidentals such as clothing and nutrition, for an extended period of time or a lifetime.

This ordinance would also provide job protection for 1,500 concession

workers at O’Hare International Airport if new contractors take over, according to reports.

During a council meeting, Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) introduced an ordinance that would close a hole that has allowed concessions to avoid paying this living wage. The ordinance was co-signed by approximately 29 aldermen.

In a released statement, Munoz stated that operators are selling $9, $10 and $11 hamburgers; $5, $6 and $7 beers; and $30 and $35 books.

Munoz’s ordinance stands out as one of the most significant expansions of the Chicago’s living wage rules since those that were added to city code in the late 1990s.

According to reports, the new bill does three things:

• Requires incoming airport concessionaires to retain the employees of the contractors they replace for at least 90 days;

• Provides that concessionaires account for collective bargaining agreements that concession workers have engaged in with employers or may in the future.

This will apparently keep workers from striking at the airports.

• Extends Chicago’s living wage standards to all concessionaires at Midway and O’Hare.

That would, again, give employees earning the minimum wage or just above it a boost to $11.03 per hour.

“What we’re saying is, share the wealth,” stated Munoz.