Ald. Jessie Fuentes (26th), celebrates a City Council committee's approval of the One Fair Wage ordinance. Credit: Melody Mercado/Block Club Chicago

CITY HALL — A City Council vote to eliminate the “subminimum wage” for Chicago’s tipped workers has been delayed until Friday because of an error in publishing the ordinance in the agenda 48 hours in advance.

The City Clerk’s office missed the deadline to include the Workforce Development Committee portion in the agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting. State law requires that the public have at least 48 hours’ notice before a legislative body can take final action on a measure.

A statement Tuesday from City Clerk Anna Valencia’s office called the error an “administrative and human issue” and pledged to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The error triggered a procedural fight Wednesday as proponents for the One Fair Wage ordinance pushed to return to City Hall Friday to vote on the ordinance.

City Clerk Anna Valencia during a City Council meeting on July 19, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

However, several aldermen opposed to the ordinance called the turnaround an inconvenience and a waste of taxpayer money and asked their colleagues to wait and vote on the measure at the next council meeting in November.

“My concern here is that using parliamentary gymnastics to contort our rules to serve the pleasure of the day is a dangerous precedent for us,” said Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), Mayor Brandon Johnson’s floor leader, pushed back on delaying the vote, saying the ordinance would have been voted on Wednesday if it weren’t for the clerk’s error.

“We can come back on Friday and get this done and get workers what they deserve,” Ramirez-Rosa said.

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) attempted to block efforts by Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd), chair of the Workforce Development Committee, to defer and publish the ordinance until Friday, but his motion failed 30-15.

Aldermen vote on whether to delay to vote on the ‘One Fair Wage’ ordinance until November’s meeting. Credit: Block Club Chicago

The One Fair Wage ordinance, introduced to City Council this summer by Ald. Jessie Fuentes (26th), aims to even the playing field for tipped employees by raising their hourly minimum wage to $15.80 an hour, the city’s current minimum wage. If approved, it would phase out the tipped wage system over the next five years.

Currently, tipped workers such as restaurant servers can be paid a “subminimum wage,” a base pay that ranges from $9 an hour for employees at smaller companies to $9.48 for those at larger ones, which are then bolstered by on-the-job tips. 

If the ordinance passes, Chicago would become the largest city to independently phase out subminimum wages for tipped workers, according to the Tribune. California does not allow subminimum wages statewide.

Currently, employers must make up the difference for tipped workers whose hourly wages plus tips do not reach the city’s full minimum wage of $15.80.

If the One Fair Wage Ordinance is approved, wages for tipped workers would increase 8 percent starting July 1, 2024, and continue to rise by 8 percent each year until 2028, when tipped workers reach the full minimum wage.

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