Today, county supervisors and living wage movement leaders announced legislation to raise the floor for Milwaukee County’s “living wage” ordinance to $15 per hour. The legislation would phase in a $15 per hour wage standard by 2022, thereafter increasing annually at the rate of inflation. The ordinance requires county contractors, concessionaires, and recipients of financial assistance, and the county itself, to pay employees the specified minimum wage. The Milwaukee County ordinance covers employers in a contractual relationship with the County, as state law prohibits local regulatory minimum wage ordinances.
If adopted, this legislation would join Milwaukee County with other localized activity toward good jobs and economic justice for otherwise low-wage workers. In September Dane County raised its long-standing living wage ordinance to $15 per hour. Over the summer the Milwaukee Bucks and the Alliance for Good Jobs announced an agreement establishing a similar wage standards for end-use service-sector jobs at the new arena and surrounding development project.
County Supervisor and lead sponsor Marcelia Nicholson said, “This legislation advances the cause of addressing Milwaukee’s twin crises of economic and racial injustice.” Nicholson explained: “The disappearance of good, family-supporting jobs from Milwaukee replaced by an explosion of low-wage service-sector jobs coincided with Milwaukee’s transition from one of the best places in the country for people of color to one of the worst. We must make a policy, a standard, and an expectation of living wages for the kinds of jobs disproportionately filled by people of color a cornerstone of our community-wide approach to addressing economic and racial injustice.”
Legislative co-sponsor County Supervisor and State Director of the Working Families Party Marina Dimitrijevic said, “Milwaukee County can lead the way in realizing the common values that hard work deserves fair pay and that all working people should be able to support themselves and their family on the wages in their paycheck. But we need all policy-makers in Madison and Washington D.C. to join us by adopting a $15 minimum wage to ensure that all workers get the living wage they deserve.”
Legislative co-sponsor County Supervisor Sequanna Taylor said, “As a woman who has been on the frontlines in the fight for $15, whether standing with fast food workers or leading my fellow MPS education assistants, I know that our vote to adopt this legislation will give hope to the people in our community when they see that our demands, like those for living wages, can be heard by those in government.”
Peter Rickman, Co-Chair of the Working Families Party and President of the Alliance for Good Jobs, said, “Milwaukee needs good jobs and economic justice.” A long-time leader in the living wages movement, he continued, “This legislation translates the demands of our movement in the streets to the halls of government, because of our people power and collective action organized in workplaces, neighborhoods and the ballot box. From the historic agreement for good jobs with living wages and workers’ rights in the arena development zone to this legislation, we must, and can, continue to take up the challenge of economic justice and equity wherever we can, however we can.”