Minimum wage goes up this week

On July 1, Chicago’s minimum wage increased to $16.20 per hour from $15.80 for workplaces with four or more employees. Tipped workers will also see their tipped wage increase to $11.02, and if their tipped wage plus tips do not meet the new $16.20 minimum wage, employers are required to make up the difference. Under Chicago’s One Fair Wage Ordinance, wages of tipped workers will increase by eight percent annually over five years until July 1, 2028—when it will meet parity with the city’s standard minimum wage. This year’s minimum wage increase also removes tiered wages for small and large businesses. Employers with between four and twenty employees will have to increase minimum wage to $16.20, the same rate as larger employers.

Edacious corruption

On June 24, former Alderman Ed Burke was sentenced to two years in federal prison and fined $2 million after being convicted last year of thirteen counts of racketeering—a charge typically brought against mafia figures—bribery, and attempted extortion. Burke, the City Council’s longest-ever serving alderman, served the 14th Ward on the city’s Southeast Side from 1969 to 2023. His career was as enmeshed with Democratic machine politics as it was with corruption. Originally a Chicago police officer, Burke became the youngest ward committeeman at twenty-four in 1968, taking over a clout-heavy position held by his father, and went on to be elected to alderman the next year. In the 1980s, Burke became chair of the powerful Finance committee, and with Alderman Ed Vrdolyak (who was himself convicted of bribery and sentenced to ten months in 2007), led a bloc of obstructionist white aldermen in vehemently opposing Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor. Over the course of his career, Burke developed a voracious appetite for graft, using his position to enrich himself by ensuring those with business before the city hired his law firm. He evaded prosecution until former Alderman Danny Solis, who was cooperating with federal investigators, secretly recorded him discussing bribes. The recordings proved Burke’s corruption. Now eighty years old, he is due to report to prison in September.

Biden announces protections for undocumented immigrants

While the current administration has been relatively empathetic with recent arrivals seeking asylum, no significant federal policy after the DREAM Act has been able to provide protections for long-term working immigrants in the country. Even the status of young people who became Dreamers under former President Barack Obama has been in limbo for years. But recently, on June 18, Biden announced a program that could offer some relief to eligible undocumented people who are married to U.S. citizens and have lived here in good standing for at least ten years. “Those who are approved after DHS’s case-by-case assessment of their application will be afforded a three-year period to apply for permanent residency. They will be allowed to remain with their families in the United States and be eligible for work authorization for up to three years,” according to the White House. As of May, Mexicans made up thirty-eight percent of border arrests, the AP reported, and although the rate is significantly lower than its peak in 2011, this nationality bears the brunt of deportation and could stand to benefit the most.

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