Greensboro City Council votes to raise minimum wageBy Yasmine Regester
Staff Writer / August 26, 2015
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Greensboro City Council passed a resolution to raise the minimum wage for city workers in a 7 to 2 vote. Council members Tony Wilkins and Justin Outling voted no.
The increase will be $10 an hour for roster and seasonal employees, except for those at the Greensboro Coliseum; and $12 an hour for employees who also receive benefits. The goal is to get minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour by 2020.
“Honestly, I don’t think that is enough,” said District 1 Council member Sharon Hightower. “But it begins the conversation on how to bring people up to a level where they can sustain themselves. Give them a check that they can be proud of. They won’t have to depend on social services to get by or put themselves in situations where they are deeper in debt. We as a city, have to be a leader in showing businesses that this is what we value — our employees.”
District 2 Council member Jamal Fox, who initially brought the issue to council noted, “I’ve been working on this for two years now. It’s not good enough to work hard and get paid less.”
The city estimates that the wage increase would cost $266,514 in the first year, which Outling doesn’t believe will benefit the city. Without a state or federal mandate leading the wage hike, Outling said he was concerned the city would be paying more for the same services other cities would get at a cheaper rate.
The move is expected to affect 245 city employees.
The council chambers were filled to capacity on Tuesday night, with many people directed to the overflow area in the lobby. Leading up to Tuesday’s Greensboro City Council meeting, Working America, Raise UP, along with supporters of the proposed wage hike, attended a press conference where Congresswoman Alma S. Adams (NC-12) urged the Greensboro City Council to vote to raise the local minimum wage for Greensboro workers.
“Minimum wage has stayed the same for years. But the cost of rent, gas, and food hasn’t stayed the same,” said Adams to council. “It’s time we inflate the pay for our workers. A fair minimum wage boosts morale and enhances productivity. A fair minimum wage is the right thing to do for our families, businesses and economy.”
Currently, the federal minimum wage and North Carolina’s minimum wage are both $7.25. A person making $7.25 who works 40 hours a week, earns a gross salary of just $15,080 per year. According to the North Carolina Justice Center’s 2014 Living Income Standard, it takes $30,746 a year to make ends meet for a family of one adult and one child in Guilford County.
While serving in the North Carolina General Assembly, Congresswoman Adams spearheaded the state’s first minimum wage increase in nine years. She is also fighting for a living wage in the U.S. House where she cosponsored the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act and the Raise the Wage Act, legislation aimed at raising the federal minimum wage.
In other Council news…
Initiative to hire ex-offenders
Council unanimously passed a resolution approving a six month internship program aimed at helping ex-offenders secure employment. The Greensboro Restoration Academy is a collaborative effort between the City’s Human Resource Department and Workforce Development.