ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – Despite an organized effort by Arise Chicago to stop Arlington Heights from opting out of a new countywide paid sick leave mandate and $13 minimum wage rate, Monday night village officials chose to postpone voting on the decision.
If they vote to "opt out", Arlington Heights would be the sixth such home rule municipality to exempt itself from two new ordinances the Cook County Board has placed on businesses within its boundaries.
Thus far, the Cook County municipalities of Barrington, Oak Forest, Mount Prospect, Rosemont, Tinley Park and River Forest have chosen to ignore the countywide mandates.
Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jon Ridler told the Chicago Tribune, the local business community is opposed to the county ordinance.
"It's an unfair, county government form of taxation that would increase consumer costs for the families it intends to help," Ridler said.
Not only is the county ordinance that will go into effect July 1, 2017 “unfair,” it is illegal, Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison told a group of Human Resource representatives March 16th.
Morrison told those in attendance at the Technology & Manufacturing Association (TMA) in Schaumburg that he argued against the new ordinances based on a Supreme Court decision that does not allow local municipalities to regulate how private sector businesses pay their employees. Such authority lies with the state alone.
“The state Supreme Court has opined and the State Constitution is very clear on how it grants municipal and or government powers,” Morrison said. “As home rule authorities, we have two duties: ministerial duties and to provide for the safety of the public.”
The Cook County ordinances do not fall within those categories, Morrison said.
“We don’t have the authority to make an ordinance that mandates a private sector business A. what they’re going to pay somebody and B. what benefits they’re going to offer,” he said.
Despite his arguments, the paid sick leave and minimum wage mandates passed the Cook County Board along party lines – 13 Democrats and four Republicans. The new laws will go into effect July 1st, but Cook County officials say the rules are likely not to be available until two weeks before the ordinances go into effect.
“We do all sorts of things to attract businesses, but these ordinances will drive businesses out,” Morrison said. “Already, we are losing revenue as manufacturers leave the far western parts of Cook County to other counties – this will only make the situation worse.”
Notices of the 40 hours of paid time off after 120 days of employment are to be included in employee paychecks two weeks before July 1st and notices will need to be posted before it goes into effect. It will be the responsibility of employers to find the wording Cook County requires.
Two groups exempted to the new ordinances are government employees and those involved in collective bargaining agreements, if they have an agreement with their unions.
Cook County businesses may escape the new county regulations by home rule municipalities’ governing boards passing resolutions saying they choose to grant the authority for such a rule to the state, not local municipalities.
TMA President Steve Rauschenberger said he agrees that the role of passing such work rules like PTO and minimum wage rate is the state’s. The non-profit group has over 800 manufacturing company members, many of which will be affected by the Cook County ordinance.
“TMA businesses observe all state and federal laws affecting employers and their employees,” Rauschenberger said. “Our members accept and are willing to administer the laws placed upon them, but it is wrong for local governments to interfere with state and federal laws that affect employers and employees.”
TMA members compete with manufacturers across the world, and they are placed at yet another disadvantage when local governments require them to provide additional benefits based on local politics, the former state senator said.
“What they’ll get at those local levels is less employment, a loss of jobs, not an increase in wages or benefits,” Rauschenberger said. “The vast majority will lose because of less economic activity in their areas.”
Rauschenberger called on businesses to contact their local village and town officials and encourage them to opt out of the county’s impending regulation.
Arlington Heights has scheduled for the issue to be revisited at their May 1st, 2017 village board meeting.
Only three Cook County municipalities thus far have officially refused to opt out of the ordinance: Countryside, Evanston and La Grange. The Arise Chicago group actively participated in each of the towns' ultimate decisions to abide by the county's ordinance.