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Milwaukee Mayor Calls For $15 Minimum Hourly Wage For City Employees

Miwaukee City Hall
Mike
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Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is calling for a $15 minimum hourly wage for city employees.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced Wednesday that he wants all city employees to be paid at least $15 an hour. Right now, approximately 400 people — from library circulation staff to crossing guards — earn less, with the lowest hourly wage dipping down to $8.19.

According to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, $14.15 per hour is the living wage for an adult with no children in the Milwaukee area.

Mayor Barrett
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett during a press conference Wednesday.

Barrett said the pandemic brought the fact that every worker should earn a living wage into sharper focus. “I think we all recognize the sacrifices and the challenges that have occurred since the beginning of the pandemic have not fallen evenly throughout our society. ... There have been tremendous pressures placed on people of color, on women in particular, on child care institutions, on people who are front facing and serving us in the public,” he said.

Barrett said under his $15-per-hour plan, eligible employees would see larger paychecks as soon as September.

The increase would cost the city approximately $1.4 million this year.

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City of Milwaukee Employee Relations Director Makda Fessahaye during the press conference Wednesday.

“For next year, we’ll have that built into our budget for 2022. So it will be a comparable amount, maybe a little higher because it will be for the full year. But we will build that into the budget," Barrett said.

Employee Relations Director Makda Fessahaye said the city is always looking for skilled workers of diverse backgrounds. “This is in an effort to bring people to the city of Milwaukee as employees and hopefully to stay as they progress in their careers,” she said.

Barrett’s proposal needs Common Council approval. It’s not yet clear how the council will react.

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