Why We Support Raising Illinois’ Minimum Wage

Sierra Club joined allies in the Raise Illinois coalition Monday to call on the Illinois General Assembly to take action this fall to raise Illinois’ minimum wage to at least $10 per hour. On Election Day two weeks ago, 67% of Illinois voters voicing supported an advisory referendum calling for the increase.

What does raising the minimum wage, and addressing income inequality, have to do with protecting the environment? We know that a healthy environment depends on a healthy economy, and an engaged public, with citizens empowered to protect their health and families.

Pollution thrives on poverty. Families living on minimum wage salaries are more likely to live with more air and water pollution, and hazardous wastes, than those earning a living wage. Low-income households are more likely to have a child or family member who suffers from asthma or other illness made worse by pollution. People struggling to survive are less empowered to seek justice when their communities are threatened. That’s how poverty attracts pollution, and environmental injustice occurs.

Everyone wants clean air, clean water, safe open spaces, and a better future for their families. However, you can’t have a voice in the fight for our future if low wages force you to focus on putting food on the table. Illinois families deserve better, and the voters have spoken, loud and clear. Sierra Club is proud to stand with our faith, labor, community, and social justice allies and call on the Illinois General Assembly to give working families a raise, and a path to a better future.

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