Co. Supervisor David Bowen hopeful living wage ordinance will pass

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee County Supervisor David F. Bowen said on Tuesday, December 17th he remains hopeful that his “living wage” ordinance will pass the full County Board with a veto-proof majority of 12 votes after the Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee delayed a vote on the measure Monday.

“This ordinance is the first step toward fairness for the people who work hard but are not compensated at a level that keeps them above the poverty line,” said Bowen, a member of the Finance Committee and sponsor of the ordinance. “I look forward to bringing this proposal to the full Board for approval as we move toward equity for working people. The Committee’s vote on Monday was a minor setback that will help us gain support on the Board for the measure.

“As it stands today, Milwaukee County uses public dollars to contract with and provide tax breaks to private corporations that pay their workers so little that they’re forced to rely on public assistance so tax payers pick up the tab.  That’s just wrong.”

The “living wage” ordinance calls for companies that do business with the County to compensate their employees an hourly wage at 110 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) for a family. It also includes developers who receive Economic Development Financial Assistance over $1 million. Every year the FPL is set by the federal government. For 2014, it is set at $12.45.

“I was not discouraged by the committee’s action, and I am hoping we can win a veto-proof majority on the full Board. Living wage is about fairness. Hard-working people do not want hand-outs, they want to live in dignity and be able to pay their bills and provide for their families. The time for a living wage ordinance is now.”

Bowen was also critical of County Executive Chris Abele, who indicated that he would veto the ordinance if passed by the Board.

"Resolution 12-636 has been on the books supporting an increase in the minimum wage since July 26, 2012, but never has Abele publicly supported an increase or devoted his lobbyist to lobby on it," Bowen said. “His apparent opposition to a living wage is a clear indication that he does not support increasing wages to pull hard-working poor people of Milwaukee County out of poverty.”