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March 18, 2004

Good News for Wisconsin Workers

A double header of good news for workers in Wisconsin, who will soon have an increased statewide minimum wage, and probably an even higher citywide minimum wage in Madison.

First at the state level:

With strong support from business, labor, and community representatives, the Minimum Wage Advisory Council voted 16-2 on March 1, 2004 to increase the state's minimum wage to $6.50 an hour over the next two years. The Department of Workforce Development estimates that 101,000 individuals will benefit in the first year and 150,000 in the second year by the increases in the minimum wage.
At the same time, the city of Madison has developing a plan to increase wages in that city to $7.75 per hour. Republicans, who control the state legislature, passed a law to make it illegal for local governments to raise minimum wages above the state level -- you gotta love much conservatives suddenly hate local government when their corporate friends are effected. But Governor Doyle vetoed their bill. While he expressed some support for the idea of promoting uniformity in labor standards, he recognized that even with the new increase in the state minimum wage, it is still inadequate:
[W]ith a minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, I can understand why localities believe that they need to raise the minimum wage. Until Republicans in the Legislature join with the consensus of business, labor, and community leaders and support raising Wisconsin's minimum wage, I see no reason to sign this bill.
Even those who most support an increased minimum wage would agree that the best solution are not scattered local or even state increases in the minimum wage, but a robust increase at the federal level.

But until the federal government restores the minimum wage to the $8.50 per hour level it was in the late 1960s, kudos to every city and state that pushes the minimum wage up in their region.

Posted by Nathan at March 18, 2004 06:17 PM