Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton
Press Release

Council approves minimum hourly wage ordinance

Joint news release and file from Alderman Hamilton, Alderman Kovac and Alderwoman Coggs

By - Jul 22nd, 2014 04:46 pm

Today the full Common Council adopted an ordinance (Council file #131627 – attached) establishing a minimum hourly wage of $10.10 for all city employees and employees paid under city service contracts.

The $10.10 rate will be in effect for this year, and will then increase to $10.80 per hour — as adjusted by the City Clerk on March 1, 2015 – to what will be the federal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ guideline for a family of 3.5 in the 48 contiguous states.

Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, chair of the Council’s Judiciary and Legislation Committee, and the primary sponsor of file #131627, said the city’s previous living wage was at $9.51 per hour — the poverty guideline for a family of three. He said the Council considers the wage approved today and the bump to $10.80 next year a significant increase over the next two years.

“Approving this ‘living wage ordinance,’ as it has been called, was the right thing to do,” he said. “The Council and the city are taking a proactive and positive approach to ensuring decent pay for our workers. Our city is one of the poorest large cities in the U.S., and it is our duty as city leaders to help improve the lives of our citizens, and establishing this minimum wage requirement for city workers and others working on city-related and supported projects is just one way we can help fight back against poverty while helping working families.

Alderman Nik Kovac, chair of the Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee and a co-sponsor of the wage measure, said for far too many Milwaukeeans, working full-time also means living in poverty. “No one who works full-time should be doing so at a rate that will leave their family in poverty,” he said.

“The average family size in the Milwaukee area is 3.3, so by raising the minimum for every person who works for a company which contracts with the city to a rate consistent with a family size bigger than our average, we are increasing the buying power and quality of life for workers – and the children of workers – in Milwaukee,” Alderman Kovac said.

Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, a member of the Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee and also a co-sponsor of the measure, said the Council’s action today is in step with President Obama’s national move to increase the minimum wage. “With additional money in their pockets workers can buy more goods and services, which helps their families and also helps stimulate our local economy,” she said.

The other co-sponsors on file #131627: Alderman Michael J. Murphy; Alderman Robert J. Bauman; Alderman Tony Zielinski; Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II; and Alderman José G. Pérez.

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