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What Is A Living Wage Law?

Living wage laws raise wages and lift standards to create good jobs in local communities. Across the country, over 125 communities have living wage laws on the books. Milwaukee can join them by passing a living wage law at the County level. On Labor Day, County Supervisor David Bowen stood with some of his colleagues on the Milwaukee County Board and workers who could be affected by a living wage to announce introduction of new living wage legislation to be taken up soon.

Local living wage laws turn practical ideas into policy. When companies benefit from public resources, they need to pay their workers a wage they can live on. Living wage laws are based on two basic notions. First, anyone that works should take home a wage that keeps them out of poverty and from needing to rely on public assistance. Second, companies that benefit from taxpayer dollars have a special responsibility to support decent jobs with family-supporting wages.

Living wage laws stand on three legs to make the policy work: application, standards, and enforcement.


Living wage laws apply to all public dollars that private companies benefit from. This includes contracts, land sales, leases, investments and financial assistance. Any time public, taxpayer dollars are used, good jobs for workers should be the result.


Living wage laws set a basic wage standard for the workers employed by these companies that benefit from public resources. These wage standards get set above the poverty line for a family of three or four because most affected workers support a family and because living wage laws should lift families out of poverty. Additionally, some living wage laws now include health insurance and earned sick time standards.


This protects workers who speak out about violations of the law. It may also include penalties for companies that violate the law.

When these three components are added up, living wage laws create good jobs, lift workers out of poverty, and improve our communities.

Isn’t it time Milwaukee joined the 140+ communities around the country that have already passed successful living wage laws? Join the fight to win a living wage in Milwaukee! Sign the petition today!

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