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New Haven, CT: Aldermen Hike “Living Wage”
New Haven Independent
Thomas MacMillan

June 8, 2011
View the Original Article

It wasn’t the law he initially hoped to pass, but Alderman Mike Jones succeeded in raising the city’s living wage up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

Aldermen voted Monday night to pass the living wage ordinance amendment he championed for much of the past year.

The law will not only raise the minimum wage for city workers and contractors from $12.50 to $14.67 dollars an hour, it includes strengthened provisions to go after violators, and it closes a loophole that allowed subcontractors to avoid paying the wage.

A more ambitious form of the bill met stiff resistance when it was proposed last year. The mayor and business advocates said the city couldn’t afford it.

A compromise version made it out of committee in April. The less ambitious version exempts city-funded jobs at non-profit organizations and narrows the scope of employees covered: They must work 12 months out of the year, exempting school workers, a key target of the original legislation, and at least 16 hours a week. And if they’re working for the city under contract, that contract must exceed $100,000.

The cost of city contracts is not expected to rise under the new ordinance, Jones told his colleagues Monday night.

The law is expected to cost the city $187,000, with the inclusion of Board of Education employees, said Hill Alderman Jorge Perez, chair of the Legislation Committee.

The proposal passed in a 26 to 2 vote along party lines. Alderwoman Arlene DePino, a Republican, and Alderwoman Maureen O’Sullivan-Best, an Independent, voted against the measure.