Chicago, Cook County increasing minimum wages on Friday; how much will workers get?
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CHICAGO (CBS) — “Check your check.” That’s the catchy message from labor advocates as the minimum wage officially rises Friday in Chicago and Cook County.

For some people, they’ll make more than $15 dollars an hour. Others make lower.

Morning Insider Lauren Victory reports on how confusing this can all be and who to turn to for help.

“It’s a hot mess to be honest with you,” said Laura Garza from Arise Chicago, talking about the different rates for minimum wage in Chicago, the suburbs and the State.

For Cook County and Chicago, the minimum wage goes up, effective Friday, July 1. Pay depends on the type of job, size of company, age of the worker and more.

For example, someone over 18 working at a company with more than 20 employees in Chicago must now be paid an hourly wage of $15.40. 

Under those same qualifications in suburban Cook County, outside of Chicago, that person must be paid $13.35 an hour. 

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Arise Chicago


“Arise Chicago” tries to help workers understand all of the changes and, if necessary, educators like Isabel Escobar help people file wage complaints.

“Sometimes they don’t pay when it’s overtime, for example,” said Escobar.

So far in 2022, 69 wage complaints have come into Chicago’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS). In 2021, OLS received almost 100 complaints specific to minimum wage.  

While many turned out to be founded, a  CBS Chicago records request shows several of the minimum wage complaints in 2021 couldn’t be fully investigated because of “insufficient information.” We also noticed some complaints were withdrawn.

“Sometimes people are afraid. Afraid from lost [sic] their job,” said Escobar.

Other cases were closed if an OSL form was “not returned.” We asked Andy Fox, director of OLS, if the City could do something better to follow-up. 

“Well, I think we have to establish our name as a trusted source,” Fox said, promising that information his investigators gather stays confidential.

He’s ramped up his team within the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection from one investigator to five investigators and two law clerks.

“If there are language challenges, you know, I speak Spanish. my investigators speak Spanish. We have someone who speaks Chinese on staff,” he said.

Another CBS2 public records request shows minimum wage violations – for not paying enough, not posting proper signage, etc. –  in the City have added up to $164,100 in fines over the past two years.

Chicago businesses also have had to cough up over a million dollars in backpay to workers.

We asked if Fox sees his investigators more as enforcers or more as educators. “It depends on the business. Some businesses deserve no compassion,” he said.

What if all the yearly minimum wage changes confuse an employer?

“If you’re on the highway and you miss the speed limit sign, I mean speeding is speeding. ‘I didn’t see the sign’ is not really a defense,” Fox said. “The office is here to make workers whole, it’s not to generate revenue for the City.”

At a Thursday press conference with Arise Chicago, Fox publicly pledged to crackdown on violators.

“I want to say loud and clear: labor laws are not optional,” he told the crowd.  

To file a complaint in Chicago, you can use 311. You can also mail a form to BACP or call directly at 312-744-2211. 

No minimum wage complaints have been filed in Cook County in 2022, according to a County spokesperson. She provided the following information for how to follow through with a complaint:

Our website provides the following information regarding filing a complaint regarding the minimum wage:

You may file a complaint using this form (or Minimum Wage Complaint Form – Spanish). 

You may prepare your own complaint or have an attorney prepare one for you. 

A complaint must contain the following:

  1. A statement of the facts alleged to constitute a violation of the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance;
  2. The date of the alleged violation;
  3. The city and state where the alleged discriminatory acts occurred; 
  4. The basis of the discrimination (examples included below); and
  5. Signature of complainant or their attorney. 

Your complaint must be filed with the Commission within 3 years of the date of the alleged violation. Please note that there is no charge or fee for filing a complaint.

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