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Hazard pay plan sent to committee

The Evanston City Council Monday night referred a proposal from Ald. Devon Reid (8th) to force large supermarket chains to give employees pandemic hazard pay to the Economic Development Committee.

The referral carried on a 4-3 vote.

A similar proposal from Reid was rejected by the City Council last June on a 7-2 vote.

Monday’s vote means the city’s legal staff will draft a new version of the ordinance that was rejected last year.

That measure has become outdated because of changes in the state rules that at the time would have triggered enforcement of the hazard pay provision.

It was unclear how many council members would favor requiring hazard pay at the current stage of the pandemic.

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) said he was not necessarily in favor of having the provision triggered now — but wanted to have something in place for potential future emergencies.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) said it was unfair to single out certain businesses for the hazard pay provision. All businesses are suffering from the pandemic, he said.

“It’s completely unfair to single out this one industry,” Braithwaite said, adding that it would end up forcing residents to pay more for the food they need to support their families.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) objected that businesses hadn’t been consulted about the proposal and said opening the measure up to apply to other emergencies was also unwise.

“Blizzards are bad,” Wynne said, “but what’s a bad enough blizzard that would trigger this ordinance?”

In addition to Reid and Burns, Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) and Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) voted to send the measure to the EDC. Braithwaite and Wynne were joined by Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) in opposing further consideration of the idea.

Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) had left the meeting before the vote and Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) was absent from the meeting.

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