Push to Hike Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers in Chicago Begins

By Heather Cherone

June 21, 2023

Nearly a dozen alderpeople — all allies of Mayor Brandon Johnson — launched a concerted effort Wednesday to require all Chicago businesses to pay their workers the same minimum hourly wage, regardless of whether they earn tips.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward), the mayor’s floor leader, cast the One Fair Wage national campaign as part of a fight for justice, saying workers who earn the so-called tipped minimum wage are more vulnerable to sexual harassment, wage theft and abuse than other employees.

“This is a critical issue,” Ramirez-Rosa said, noting that the practice of allowing employers to pay their workers less than the minimum wage — as long as tips make up the rest — originated in slavery. 

Johnson’s mayoral campaign platform called for an end to the tipped minimum wage, noting that those who rely on tips to earn a living wage are more likely to be Black and Latina women. Johnson was endorsed by the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois, which is part of the One Fair Wage campaign.

Chicago’s minimum wage for most workers will rise to $15.80 per hour on July 1, an increase of 40 cents. That comes two years after Chicago’s minimum wage hit $15 per hour after a six-year fight that energized the labor movement and fueled new laws designed to improve the working conditions for the city’s lowest-paid workers, who are disproportionately Black and Latino. read more