Earlier this month, the Governor of Oregon signed into law a novel tiered minimum wage bill. Gov. Brown signs ‘monumental’ Oregon minimum wage bill:
Shortly thereafter, President Barack Obama released a statement commending Brown and the Legislature while criticizing Congress for inaction on raising the federal minimum wage.
Brown told reporters at the bill signing ceremony that increasing the minimum wage was her top priority for the 2016 legislative session. The law takes effect July 1, with a 50-cent increase in the statewide minimum wage.
Passing the minimum wage increase was no small feat. Lobbyists for business and labor groups were firmly camped on opposite sides of the wage debate. The labor groups filed ballot measures to raise the minimum wage. That effectively forced the Legislature to come up with its own solution before a costly and potentially politically damaging ballot measure fight ensued.
The compromise developed between legislators and business and labor lobbyists is novel because it creates three minimum wage tiers for the state. Rural areas will see a wage increase from the current $9.25 to $12.50 by 2022. Much of the state will use a “base wage,” which will increase to $13.50 by 2022. The third tier is in the Portland area, which will increase to $14.75 by 2022. After 2022, the base wage will be adjusted for inflation, with the Portland wage tied $1.25 above and the rural wage $1 below the base wage.
At the bill signing, an energetic Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, the bills’s sponsor, said the minimum wage law builds upon the paid sick leave law the Legislature passed in 2015. He called the new law “monumental.”
“This is why we were elected,” he said.
And then there is Arizona . . .
In 2006, Arizona voters approved Proposition 202, the Arizona Minimum Wage Act, by a citizens initiative which set a higher minimum wage and adopted an automatic annual cost of living adjustment.
Proposition 202 also gave local governments the right to enact their own higher minimum wage and other benefits of employment. (A.R.S.§ 23-362, Paragraph I). Last July, the Court ruled that Arizona cities can raise minimum wage.
Current Arizona law thus already provides for the flexibility that the state of Oregon recently enacted with its novel tiered minimum wage law.
But Arizona’s Tea-Publican legislators want voters to strip counties, cities and towns of the ability to set their own minimum wage and their explicit right to adopt employee benefits to their own liking, e.g., paid time off ordinances.
In other words, they want you to repeal the citizens initiative that you passed in 2006, Proposition 202, the Arizona Minimum Wage Act. Because our authoritarian Tea-Publican overlords know what is best for us.
The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports on the Ayn Rand fan club that is our lawless Tea-Publican legislature. Legislators pursue minimum wage hike to counter ‘insane socialism’:
HCR 2014, would increase the statewide minimum wage from $8.05 to $8.41 beginning Jan. 1, 2017, and would incrementally increase each following year, up to $9.50 in 2020. After that, Arizona’s minimum wage would increase annually to account for cost of living adjustments.
However, the resolution changes how cost-of-living adjustments are accounted for. Rather than calculate the adjustment based on data from the immediately preceding year, cost of living would be adjusted based on two-year-old data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – a change that hurts employees trying to keep up with the cost of living.
Service industry workers would see their wages cut under the proposal, which was crafted by the [evil bastards at the] Arizona Restaurant and Hospitality Association. For employees who regularly receive tips, their employers could pay them 40 percent less than the minimum wage, according to the amendment, a bigger hit on an employee’s base wage than current statute allows. Arizona employers in the service industry can now pay $3 less than the minimum wage.
Applied to the current $8.05 minimum wage, a 40 percent reduction is greater than the $3 reduction now applied to tipped workers’ base wage. And a reduction of 40 percent will only continue to grow as the minimum wage increases.
The evil bastards at the Arizona Restaurant and Hospitality Association would bring back indentured servitude and slavery were it not for the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The resolution asks voters to undo what they voted for in 2006, when Arizonans approved a ballot measure to raise the minimum wage and allow counties and municipalities to adopt their own minimum wage and employee benefits laws.
As approved by voters, the minimum wage is adjusted annually for inflation, which has been so low that the raises have been small. For example, the minimum wage increased by 15 cents this year, from $7.90 in 2015.
Counties, cities and towns would also no longer have the explicit right to adopt their own benefit policies. But they likely would still be able to do so, as the new language proposed in the amendment declares only that a uniform minimum wage is a matter of statewide concern. It makes no mention of benefits.
[T]he change in statute may be only a first step for Gov. Doug Ducey, who vowed in his January State of the State address to “put the brakes on ill-advised plans to create a patchwork of different wage and employment laws.” Ducey and some Republican lawmakers have spoken out against efforts by some Arizona localities for trying to provide mandatory paid sick leave, parental leave, and other benefits to employees.
I have previously posted about this multi-pronged attack on the Arizona Minimum Wage Act by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature and Governor “Il Duce.” Action Alert: GOP war on the Arizona Minimum Wage Act is up for vote in the House today, and Action Alert: GOP war on the Arizona Minimum Wage Act is in the Senate today.
I also posted about the citizens initiative campaign for a minimum wage ballot measure kicking off within the next few weeks.
Bill Scheel, a Democratic campaign consultant working on the ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to as much as $15, called HCR2014 “completely unacceptable.”
Scheel said he believes HCR2014 was at least partially intended to compete with the initiative being planned by the Fair Wages and Healthy Families committee. But he said its primary purpose is to punish cities such as Tempe and Tucson that are considering their own minimum wages or other employment policies [paid time off measures].
“I think it’s more about that than about our thing specifically, though it seems like that’s what it will turn into,” Scheel said.
The provisions in HCR2014 that would create mild increases in the minimum wage are a “smoke screen” intended to entice voters to support it, Scheel said.
The Fair Wages and Healthy Families committee has yet to decide exactly how high to set the proposed minimum wage. Scheel said polling shows strong support for a minimum wage in the $14 to $15 range, and that the measure is likely to include “strong provisions for other potential benefits for workers.”
* * *
While lawmakers need to approve the resolution in the full Senate and House, the Fair Wages and Healthy Families committee needs to collect 150,642 valid signatures of registered voters by July 7 to get onto the November ballot.
Scheel, the Democratic consultant, estimated that the campaign will need to collect between 225,000 and 240,000 signatures to give itself a sizeable cushion to account for invalid signatures. Nonetheless, he expressed confidence that it could be done. He said the campaign has significant funding commitments from national individuals and labor organizations, and expects to run a multimillion-dollar campaign.
Tomas Robles, executive director of the progressive advocacy group Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), which is a key member of the coalition, is listed as the committee’s chairman.
In addition, the organization Flagstaff Needs a Raise pulled paperwork at City Hall on Monday to collect signatures to put a voter initiative on that city’s November ballot that would gradually increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021. Living wage campaign about to begin in Flagstaff:
Joe Bader, the treasurer of Flagstaff Needs a Raise, said the group is a subcommittee of the Flagstaff Living Wage Coalition and he reserved further comment for the organization’s press conference, which is set for Monday.
According to the petition forms, the initiative, if approved by voters, would
–increase the city’s minimum wage to $10 an hour on July 1, 2017.
–raise the minimum wage each January until it reached $15 an hour by 2021, then increase it each January based on the cost of living.
–raise the minimum wage for tipped employees to $15 an hour by 2026.
–require that the city’s minimum wage always be at least $2 above the state minimum wage.
To make the November ballot, Flagstaff Needs a Raise will have to collect 2,537 valid signatures and turn them in before 5 p.m. on July 8.
Of course, Tea-Publicans and their masters at the Chamber of Commerce are opposed to citizens exercising their lawful right under the Arizona Minimum Wage Act, Proposition 202 (2006), to set a local minimum wage and to enact paid time off ordinances. Don’t you people understand that you are all just serfs who serve the corporatocracy?
You know what to do: reject our lawless Tea-Publican legislature’s and Governor’s ballot measure (HCR 2014), and vote for the citizens initiatives to raise the minimum wage (if they qualify for the ballot).
Addendum: California’s legislature and governor this week agreed to a compromise to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 in California. It now must work its way through the California Assembly.California reaches deal on $15 minimum wage:
A deal to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 was reached Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators, making the nation’s largest state the first to lift base earnings to that level and propelling a campaign to lift the pay floor nationally.
The increase will boost the wages of about 6.5 million California residents, or 43% of the state’s workforce, who earn less than $15, according to worker group Fight for $15. The proposal had been headed to a statewide referendum. It’s now expected to be approved by the state assembly.
“This plan raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change,” Brown said. The governor can temporarily suspend the hikes in the event of poor economic conditions or a large budget deficit.
About a dozen cities have approved bumps in their minimum wages to $15, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and several other municipalities in California.
* * *
Under California’s plan, its minimum wage, currently one of the highest in the nation at $10 an hour, would rise to $10.50 in 2017, $11 in 2018 and a dollar each year through 2022.
The pact was also hailed by labor advocates. “This is a very, very significant increase and for the first time would begin to reverse years of falling pay at the bottom” of the income ladder, Sonn said.
The plan to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 cleared its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday in the House Appropriations Committee, putting the state on track to become the fist in the nation to commit to such a large pay hike for the working poor. Plan to raise California minimum wage to $15 clears key panel.