Here is a look at some of this week’s minimum wage stories from around the country. The American Booksellers Association is encouraging its members to reach out to town, county, or state officials to ensure they have a voice in any minimum wage discussions that take place in their communities.
- National: Department of Labor Urging Minimum Wage Increase
- Maine: Bangor to Increase Its Minimum Wage
- Missouri: State Rep Files Bill to Increase Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour
- New York: Minimum Wage Increases as of December 31
- Oregon: SEIU Backing Minimum Wage Push
The Department of Labor will make increasing the federal minimum wage a key priority in the remaining days of the Obama administration. On the U.S. Department of Labor Blog, Secretary Tom Perez wrote: “We will fight to get hardworking people a raise, by advocating for a minimum wage increase and completing a new overtime rule.”
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, though President Obama has called for a $10.10 per hour minimum wage for most hourly workers, according to the Washington Examiner. The article noted that many Republicans in Congress are opposed to increasing the federal wage, arguing that increasing the hourly wage will destroy entry-level jobs.
Bangor, Maine’s City Council voted 7–2 to increase the minimum wage in the city to $8.25 per hour effective January 1, 2017, as reported by the Bangor Daily News. In 2018, the wage will increase to $9 per hour, and to $9.75 the following year. The wage will then be increased based on the consumer price index. At present, the minimum wage in Bangor is the same as the statewide minimum of $7.50 per hour.
Opponents of the wage increase contend such a move shouldn’t be made by an individual municipality and that it could drive businesses away, the Daily News reported. Councilors Nelson Durgin and David Nealley, who cast the two dissenting votes, said they believe the city is stepping out of line by passing its own ordinance, the article noted.
Statewide, Maine voters may have the opportunity to cast ballots on November 8, 2016, to decide whether the state’s hourly minimum wage should increase to $12 by 2020. Called the “Maine Minimum Wage Increase Initiative,” the measure would increase the minimum wage to $9 in 2017, $10 in 2018, $11 in 2019, and $12 in 2020. After 2020, the minimum wage would rise and fall with changes in the consumer price index. Proponents of the measure will need to collect 61,123 signatures to have it added to the ballot.
In September, the Portland City Council passed a minimum wage increase to $10.10, which takes effect in January.
Missouri State Rep. Michael Butler (D-St. Louis) has pre-filed legislation (H.B. 1453) that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour from the current $7.65, as reported by the St. Louis Business Journal. Butler told the Business Journal that Missourians with full-time jobs should not have to live in poverty; however, the bill is not expected to gain traction in the state’s Republican controlled General Assembly.
In the meantime, Missouri Jobs With Justice is looking to put a minimum wage increase on the statewide ballot. Its proposal would increase the minimum wage to $9 per hour, with a $1 per hour increase each year until 2023, when the minimum wage would be $15 per hour, the Business Journal reported.
To get the initiative on the November 2016 ballot, Missouri Jobs With Justice must collect signatures from registered voters equal to five percent of the total votes cast in the 2012 governor’s election from six of the state’s congressional districts.
The New York State Department of Labor has issued a bulletin reminding employers in the state that, on December 31, 2015, the state’s minimum wage will increase to $9 per hour. (New posters will be available for printing on December 31, 2015.)
On Friday, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503 launched a political action committee to finance ballot measures aimed at increasing Oregon’s minimum wage, as reported by Oregon Live.
The PAC, Oregonians Need a Raise, already has clout in the state capitol. The group has more than $300,000 in its coffers for the upcoming ballot fight, which it received from SEIU’s international office, and it is negotiating with Gov. Kate Brown and legislators regarding compromise minimum wage legislation.
There could potentially be four ballot measures regarding minimum wage in Oregon next year, if all the petitioning efforts are successful. The SEIU-supported measure would increase the state’s hourly wage from $9.25 to $15 by 2020. An effort spearheaded by the coalition Raise the Wage would increase the wage to $13.50 per hour, according to Oregon Live.