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Milwaukee County board votes today on living wage ordinance

Wisconsin Gazette report

The Milwaukee County Board is scheduled to vote on a proposed living wage ordinance today (Feb. 6).

An announcement said more than 8,000 employees of private companies that profit from county tax dollars stand to benefit if the board votes “yes” on the ordinance proposed by Supervisor David Bowen of the 10th District.

In late January, the county board’s finance committee approved the ordinance, which would set a minimum “living wage” of 100 percent of the poverty line — $11.33 — for workers employed by companies doing business with the county. The committee vote was 7-2.

The measure would raise wages for employees in several sectors, from home health care to the airport, that have county contracts.

“It’s been a long time coming. Working two full jobs just to get by is no way to live.” said Kevin Walker, a guard working for county-contracted security firm Orion. “No one who works as hard as we do, day in day out, should have to worry about paying their bills because their pay is too low.”

Workers, along with a coalition of 40 organizations, are calling on supervisors to follow the lead set by President Barack Obama who recently announced he would use an executive order to raise the minimum wage for those who work for companies under new federal contracts.

The Milwaukee County Democratic Party has endorsed the living wage ordinance. A statement from the Democrats said, “The proposed Milwaukee County living wage ordinance would boost the local economy by putting more money in the hands of working people who will spend it here, instead of public resources subsidizing large, profitable corporations.”

Jennifer Epps-Addison, executive director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, also backed the county push.

“For-profit corporations are making a killing off our tax dollars while their workers are often forced to rely on public assistance,” she said. “The county board has an opportunity to do the right thing tomorrow. It’s time to pass the living wage!”

The board meeting will take place at 9 a.m. at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

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