The following is a statement from Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, on passage of SB 1, the $15 minimum wage bill, by the Illinois House today:
“While the $15 minimum wage bill that passed today is not perfect, it marks a significant and historic step forward for working families across the state.
“This is a day of celebration for working families across the state. Many, including thousands of SEIU Healthcare hospital, nursing home, home care and child care workers, have been fighting for a $15 statewide minimum wage for years now. They were instrumental in launching this fight because they know firsthand the harsh reality of trying to live on $8.25, $9, and even $12 an hour.
“The leadership that lawmakers and the Governor have shown in the swift passage of this bill—after so many years of delay and equivocation—will result in concrete benefits for 1.4 million plus workers across the state who struggle to survive on wages that cannot meet even their most basic living expenses of rent, utilities, food and clothing.
“The benefits of a $15 minimum wage will also expand far beyond those who will get a much needed boost to their paychecks. Low-wage work often results in high turnover, as workers lack the economic stability to work just one job and must take on other higher paying work when it becomes available. By boosting the income of the workers who provide hands-on care for the state’s most vulnerable—seniors, people with disabilities, low-income children—this wage increase will provide vulnerable residents with increased continuity of care, and help ensure that care providers are available for all who need their crucial services.
“Additionally, the working families benefitting from this increase have immediate needs to fill—for milk, school clothing, utilities, diapers—and they will give the state economy an immediate and sustained boost when they start having a little extra cash to meet those needs. This is money that will largely be spent where economic development is most needed, too, in neighborhoods and communities.
“After years of fighting for a $15 minimum wage, our members join with working families across the state to celebrate this historic achievement—and to applaud those elected officials who listened to and acted upon the real and pressing need of Illinois workers for a far more livable minimum wage. In particular, we commend the lawmakers who recognized the importance of setting a $15 standard for the entire state—and thus refusing to leave any Illinois worker behind to live in poverty while working full-time.
“We also urge lawmakers to take similar swift action on many of the other pressing priorities of working families, long neglected under the previous Governor, including fully funding and expanding the home care and child care programs that so many vulnerable Illinoisans depend upon, and seeking out truly progressive and fair revenue solutions.”