Today, Bookselling This Week launches Minimum Wage Roundup, a new feature that will report on minimum wage stories from around the country in an effort to keep booksellers on top of developments in their local communities and states.
If there is a minimum wage discussion occurring in your state or town, ABA urges you to get involved. If you want more information on how to do so, contact ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to check out BookWeb’s Minimum Wage advocacy page.
Here’s this week’s roundup:
- Arizona: No Minimum Wage Increase in 2016
- California: Sacramento Wage Increase Proposal Stirs Controversy
- Iowa: Johnson County Forming Committee on Minimum Wage Increase
- Maine: Poll Shows Residents Support Minimum Wage Increase … But How Much?
- Massachusetts: State Mulling Another Minimum Wage Increase
- Minnesota: Minneapolis to Investigate Raising the Minimum Wage
- Missouri: Judge Rules St. Louis Wage Increase Invalid
- New York: State Senate to Hold Hearing on Minimum Wage Increase
- South Dakota Minimum Wage to Increase
- Washington: Minimum Wage Vote Has Spokane Businesses Concerned
The Industrial Commission of Arizona announced last week that the state’s minimum wage will remain at $8.05 for 2016, as reported by the Phoenix Business Journal. Since 2006, when the Minimum Wage for Working Arizonans Act was approved by voters, the state’s minimum wage has been tied to the federal Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. However, because of the CPI’s 0.2 percent bump this past year, the Journal noted, the minimum wage will remain unchanged.
On October 27, the City Council in Sacramento, California, is scheduled to vote on raising the minimum wage in the city from $9 to $12.50 as of 2020 (California’s minimum wage goes up to $10 in 2016). The increase has stirred heated debate, and not because the wage is too high, but rather because groups representing low-wage workers think the increase does not go far enough.
The proposed wage increase drew a group of activists to an October 13 Sacramento City Council meeting to protest the proposal, because they believe the increase is too low and exempts businesses from the increase if they can prove their employees make at least $15 an hour with tips, as reported by the Sacramento Bee. The exemption is known as the “total compensation provision.”
Groups representing low-wage workers said that they would likely sue the city if the council passes the proposed wage increase in its current form. Daniela Urban, executive director of the Center for Workers’ Rights, told the Bee that “the city should be prepared for a lawsuit” if it includes the total compensation provision and Fabrizio Sasso, head of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, said his organization would likely participate in a legal challenge.
Conversely, business and restaurant groups said they supported the wage increase as written. John Kabateck with the California Restaurant Association told the Bee that “nobody got everything they wanted” but that the plan was “sound, fair, and reasonable.”
Johnson County, Iowa, which includes Iowa City, is embroiled in a debate over a minimum wage increase passed by the County Board in September. County supervisors plan to form a committee to advise the county on the impact of the wage increase by gathering feedback from relevant parties, including business groups, as reported by the Clinton Herald.
The board voted to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017, with the first increase starting November 1. But as of mid-October, only six of the cities in the county will be enacting the ordinance. Two cities have opted out due to “economic or legal concerns,” with two other cities expected to opt out. Three other cities will look to study the impact of the change and will re-examine the wage increase in a few months, the Clinton Herald noted.
The two cities that opted out are Shueyville and Solon, which will keep their minimum wage at $7.25. Oxford and Swisher are also expected to opt out of the law by November 1, when the first increase goes into effect. Iowa City, North Liberty, and University Heights are taking a wait-and-see approach to the increase.
Sixty-eight percent of 600 registered Maine voters support a minimum wage increase in the state, as reported by the Bangor Daily News. Twenty-two percent of those surveyed were opposed to any increase, while 10 percent did not have an opinion. The results were part of a Critical Insights survey, conducted by a Portland-based company that polls Maine voters twice a year on various issues.
While the survey question did not ask Maine voters about how much of an increase they would support, at present, the Maine AFL-CIO is in the midst of a petition drive to force a vote on its proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $9 per hour from the current $7.50 by 2017, then increase the wage by a dollar each year until the wage reaches $12 in 2020.
Dana Connors, president of the Maine Chamber of Commerce, told the Daily News that the chamber understands the need for a wage increase but stressed that the AFL-CIO proposal goes too far. “How far can our economy afford to go to recognize the need to increase but also to have a viable business climate?” he asked.
Massachusetts legislators met last week to discuss raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in the state, as reported by WWLP.com. At present, the state minimum wage is $9 per hour, though that wage will increase by one dollar each year until 2017, when the wage will be $11.
The Minneapolis City Council plans to explore raising the city’s minimum wage to $12 or $15 per hour from the current state minimum wage of $9, as reported by KSTP.com. The council gave the go-ahead for a study on the issue and is soliciting proposals for minimum wage increase evaluations both citywide and in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, the Star Tribune reported.
The study will be completed in March 2016 and the project cost is $150,000. It will examine impacts of a $12 and $15 minimum wage, applied either just in Minneapolis or in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, the Star Tribune article noted.
On October 14, a circuit judge ruled invalid a minimum wage increase passed by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, which would have increased the hourly wage for workers to $11 from $7.65 by 2018, as reported by CNNMoney.com. The ruling was issued a day before the first stage of the increase was set to take effect.
In blocking enforcement of the wage increase, Judge Steven Ohmer said the ordinance was in conflict with current state law that sets the minimum wage at $7.65, as reported by MissouriNet. Last month, a coalition of business groups, mainly comprised of restaurants, according to the Associated Press, had sued to block implementation of the wage increase, contending that the St. Louis ordinance conflicted with existing state law, exceeded the city’s authority under its charter, and was improperly enacted, MissouriNet noted.
The wage increase was to take place in stages. The first increase would have raised the minimum wage to $8.25 on October 15. Then on January 1, 2016, the wage would have gone up to $9, with the wage increasing to $10 in 2017 and then $11 on January 1, 2018.
The New York State Senate plans to hold a hearing on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to raise the minimum wage for workers to $15 per hour. Sen. Jack Martins (R-Nassau County), chair of the Labor Committee, told the Albany Business Review that he expects the hearing will take place prior to the legislature returning in January.
“The governor has put forth a proposal,” Martins told ABR. “It’s our responsibility to call some people together and find out what the ramifications and prospects for a $15 minimum wage are.” Martins added: “We should give [small businesses] an opportunity to be heard.”
On September 10, Gov. Cuomo announced that New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino had accepted the New York State Fast Food Wage Board’s recommendation that fast food workers’ wages be increased to $15 per hour as of December 31, 2018. The governor then proposed that the state raise the minimum wage for all workers to $15. Cuomo wants the new minimum wage phased in over time, with the $15 per hour wage going into effect as of July 1, 2021. New York State’s minimum wage is already set to increase to $9 as of December 31, 2015. “We will phase in the wage so businesses can plan accordingly,” Cuomo said in his announcement.
In a letter to the governor dated September 28, ABA CEO Oren Teicher stressed that independent booksellers do not oppose increasing the minimum wage, but, he said, “Our members in the state want to work with your office to help craft a solution that raises wages based upon sound economic principles.”
On Thursday, October 14, South Dakota’s Department of Labor and Regulation announced that the minimum wage would increase by a nickel to $8.55 in 2016 to accommodate for the cost-of-living increase, as reported by KOTA News. The increase comes as part of a law that the state passed tying minimum wage increases to a living wage. The law went into effect in 2015, at which time the hourly minimum wage increased to $8.50 from $7.25.
When Spokane residents head to the voting booth this November 3, they will be asked to vote on Proposition 1, the Worker’s Bill of Rights, a bill that, among other things, would raise the hourly wage that businesses with 150 employees or more must pay. According to KREM.com, since the wage is based on GDP, some estimate the proposition could increase the hourly wage to as high as $21 per hour. The increase would be phased in over four years.
Washington’s minimum wage is currently $9.47 per hour, which is the nation’s highest minimum wage among states, as reported by the Spokesman-Review. Under Proposition 1, a wage would be calculated on how much someone needs to spend to meet their needs in food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, childcare, clothing and other personal items, emergency savings, and taxes, the article noted.
As well as raising the minimum wage, Proposition 1 would amend the city charter to ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race and add protections against termination. The measure would make the rights of corporations secondary to people’s rights, the Spokesman-Review article noted.