HF 295 – the state bill that would attempt to roll back critical and hard-fought victories regarding the minimum wage and worker’s rights – has past its final hurdle in the Iowa Senate, and is now waiting to be signed by Governor Terry Branstad.
But we’re not waiting for that day.
Writing for the Gazette, Mitchell Schmidt has detailed our ongoing efforts to urge local businesses to continue paying their workers a living wage, to continue to offer the same level of economic support that members of our community rely upon to provide for themselves and their families. So far, we’ve heard from fifteen different businesses that they were going to commit to paying $10.10 an hour, and we’re continuing day in and day out to make that number as high as possible.
Our community organizer Mazahir Salih has been working since earlier this week asking businesses to make these commitments. Schmidt writes:
Salih, [community organizer for] the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, recently began meeting with downtown Iowa City business owners to encourage them to stick with any wage increases established by the county’s minimum wage ordinance, which first passed in 2015.
“We hope they continue to pay the Johnson County minimum wage, that’s our hope right now. We don’t have another choice,” Salih said. “We believe that those in Des Moines, they are not the residents of Johnson County.”
Earlier this week, Salih began asking business owners not only to keep current wages above $10.10 an hour, but also to pledge to hire all future employees at that rate or higher — essentially acting as if the county’s ordinance still were in effect.
Those who agree are given a poster that states they support the county’s ordinance.
That ordinance will be abolished if Gov. Terry Branstad signs House File 295, which rolls back higher minimum wage thresholds approved in at least five counties including Johnson and Linn. The bill pre-empts counties from passing higher minimum wage ordinances in the future and reaffirms $7.25 an hour as the state minimum wage.
Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, last week said he suspected majority Republicans were pressing ahead with the pre-emption bill to beat Polk County’s April 1 implementation date in boosting the minimum wage there to $8.75 an hour.
But some area business owners said they don’t plan to cut raises that were forced by local wage increases.
So far, Salih said she has heard from 15 businesses who intend to keep wages above $10.10 per hour.
“I just really appreciate the businesses in the downtown area who say they are going to keep it at $10.10,” she said. “It makes a big difference in (employees’) lives. They are able to buy enough food for their children, they can buy new clothes for them.”