Milwaukee County Board Passes ‘Living Wage’ Ordinance

MacIver News Service | February 7, 2014

[Milwaukee, Wisc…] The Milwaukee County Board voted to approve an ordinance on Thursday that would raise the minimum wage for county employees and employees of companies that contract with the county to $11.32 an hour.

The proposal would cost Milwaukee County more than $1 million this year. The cost would increase to $7.3 million by 2019 according to County Comptroller Scott Manske.

The ordinance would exempt certain areas of governance in the county, including Mitchell International Airport concessions.

“This ordinance might feel good to some for a while, but in the end the County, local businesses, and the employees themselves will be hurt by it,” County Supervisor Deanna Alexander said in a statement.

State Rep. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) supported the move by the County Board and called for the state legislature to follow suit.

“I hope that my colleagues in the State Legislature answer the challenge presented by today’s vote, and pass similar proposals to mandate a living wage for all State employees and contractors, and to raise the minimum wage for all Wisconsinites,” Johnson said.

The new ordinance still needs to be signed by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to go into effect. Abele has not said whether or not he will sign it. If Abele vetoes the ordinance, it can be overturned by a 12-vote super majority of the County Board.

The ordinance passed Thursday on a 12-6 vote.