Workers Rally At Illinois Capitol For Higher Wages

Feb 27, 2014

The battle over raising the minimum wage got louder this week. Several hundred minimum wage workers and union members rallied in the Capitol.

A coalition of unions and activist groups lobbied lawmakers and shared their stories of life on minimum wage.

Credit State of Illinois

Rachel Bittenbender is a 25-year-old earning $8.25 an hour. She works just shy of full-time at a fast food restaurant in Dixon.

"After I pay my bills? That's about it. I have a little bit aside to help with some groceries and then get my car with some gas if I need it for that week," Bittenbender said.

If the minimum wage were to be raised, Bittenbender says she'd go back to school — she wants to become an English professor someday. She's been working full-time for minimum wage since she dropped out of school to take care of her ailing mother.

Democrats like Kim Lightford have been pushing to raise the state minimum to at least $10 an hour.

Republicans and business groups counter that raising the wage would hurt small business and drive unemployment.