Good night for low-wage workers

By Michell K. McIntyre, Director of NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft

Last week’s election was the culmination of a long and often grueling campaign season that saw voters in three cities give low-wage workers a much-needed raise. San Jose, California and Albuquerque, New Mexico passed increases to the city’s minimum wage while Long Beach, California passed a living wage law for hotel workers.

San Jose’s increase to the city’s minimum wage was born out of a sociology class at San Jose State University. Low-wage workers in San Jose will enjoy a two-dollar increase that takes the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10 an hour. Albuquerque not only increased their minimum wage by a dollar making it $8.50 but tied it to inflation and increased the tipped minimum wage to 60 percent of the regular minimum wage – making it $5.10 an hour.

In Long Beach, hotels with more than 100 rooms now have to choose between paying workers a livable wage – pay workers $13 an hour, give full-time employees five paid sick days a year and give employees an annual automatic 2 percent raise – or agree to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with employees. Either way you slice it, low-wage workers came out ahead in three cities.

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