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Ald. Moore, Black businesses frustrated over Paid Time Off bill

Alderman David Moore (17th).

The City Council’s passage of the controversial Paid Time Off (PTO) ordinance mandating businesses to give 10 days of paid time off for employees, which includes five sick days and an equal number of vacation days, has Alderman David Moore (17th) and some Black businessmen frustrated and angry.

In a 36-12 vote, the City Council passed the PTO ordinance, but not with Moore’s support. He voted against it. “It will hurt the employees. Even with cutting the employees by so many hours, it is going to be challenging for the businesses because they have to keep up with hours” that differentiate between sick and vacation time.

“I’m frustrated too because many of the small Black businesses were not involved in the conversations, and by the time they got involved, it was too late. There wasn’t enough time to make concessions. This didn’t have to be rushed. These small Black businesses should have been included more.”

But Mayor Johnson was happy, having fulfilled one of his campaign promises. After the vote, he said, “With this ordinance, it is further demonstration that the city of Chicago is truly the greatest freaking city in the world.”

Moore said Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association, was not contacted. “A lot of these Black aldermen voted for it, but they didn’t have to. They could have waited. It didn’t have to go through until they found a comfort level with the small Black businesses.”

When several aldermen told Moore they could work something out, he told them it was too late. “They always talk that stuff, we will work something out, but once the bill has passed, it passed. That’s like telling a woman marry me first, then I’ll get you a ring.”

When contacted, one Black businessman, who asked not to be named fearing city retaliation, said the ordinance will put some Black businesses out of business.

“All that glitters ain’t gold.” Listing all of the different taxes and different insurances that businesses have to pay, the businessman said, “There are so many people eating out of that pot that this will make it difficult for people to stay in business.”

As a result of this law, the businessman said, “We are going to creatively do our payroll,” like reducing his staff to part-time status to get under the curb of the 40 hours. “If a person works full time,” he said, “this will force employers to make their staff part time.”

The City Council’s actions come at a time when Governor Pritzker signed into law a bill mandating that employers give their workers at least one hour paid leave for any reason for every 40 hours they work every year. This goes into effect in 2024.

“Some people will go out of business. This could run a person out of business,” the businessman said. “I’m either going to stop having full-time employees or go to part-time status.” Or he may cut staff hours to 36 hours to avoid the 40-hour requirement. “Now, you’re right under that curb where you don’t have to do it either, but then you’ve taken four hours away from the employees.

“We got to learn to sit both sides down and talk about it before something like this passes,” he said. “Nobody ever called me before this vote was taken. They let some of the bigger players do the talking, but they didn’t get 20 small ‘ma and pa’ businessmen and talk to them, and if they had done that, you’ll get a different story.”

He criticized the City Council for “rushing to pass this ordinance” when the law starts in two months.

“Some of us invested their whole lives in opening up these businesses, and they will not be dictated with something being shoved down their throats. I may have 15 employees, but come January, I will have 7. I will have to shave off some of their hours to follow this new law.”

“We have already increased the minimum wage and now we have passed the One Fair Wage Act,” which increases tips by $1 over the cost-of-living increases in 2025 and 2026.

“This new city law will run some of the small ‘ma and pa’ stores out of business. I am frustrated. With all of these increases, there ain’t a lot to take,” the businessman stated. “After you pay all of these taxes, you look up and there’s nothing left.”

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