Chicago’s Board of Elections gave the go ahead for a ballot question on raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 in 103 precincts in 20 wards, or about 5 percent of the city’s precincts. The vote will be an “advisory one,” Crain’s Chicago Business explains, and the $15 wage would apply to companies with annual gross revenues above $50 million. But organizers and some alderman hope that it could build momentum for a higher wage in the city or the state. Several alderman endorsed a higher wage in December. The group that has been pushing the $15 raise question, the Raise Chicago Coalition, told Crain’s that it hopes the vote “will spark a serious conversation about how the city of Chicago, and all levels of government, must tackle the growing inequality and poverty crisis.”
The activists may be borrowing a page from other fights in targeting a $15 minimum wage. The figure first began to surface in calls from fast food workers, who staged a wave of strikes last year, to raise their wages to that level. The idea caught on in a small town outside of Seattle, home to the SeaTac airport, where voters approved a $15 wage in November, although it is now being fought over in court. Seattle’s mayor is also now pushing for a wage for his city at that level.