When we fight, we win!
Milwaukee workers won a huge victory on February 6 as the County Board voted 12-6 to pass the living wage ordinance. This bill will raise the wages of approximately 8,000 private employees working for county contractors to 100% of the poverty level for a family of four (roughly $11.33 in 2013). In addition, the bill indexes wages to the rate to inflation so that workers don’t lose purchasing power over time.
Turnout to the event was impressive. Many in attendance represented the coalition of 40 groups that have campaigned for living wage over the course of the last year. The venue was strictly “standing room only.”
Workers, WJN members, and activists alike have knocked on doors, made calls, and reached out to their county supervisors since spring 2013 to get them on board. The battle was tough, but nothing worth doing is easy. This victory demonstrates the truly amazing things that can happen when grassroots and workplace organizing efforts come to fruition.
The living wage ordinance now rests in the hands of County Executive Chris Abele who has voiced opposition to the measure in the past. With that in mind the coalition hand-delivered over 10,000 petition signatures to the executive’s office directly after the bill’s passage to pressure him to do the right thing and sign the measure.
The fight for fair wages is far from over, and we all know that we have to keep up the pressure to win. The living wage is good for workers, good for our communities, and it raises Milwaukee up to the level of the 140+ municipalities that have already passed living wage laws.
No one who works hard should have to struggle in poverty. Tell Chris Abele to sign the bill today. In Milwaukee, let’s put people ahead of corporate profits.
Many thanks to Supervisors David Bowen, Gerry Broderick, David Cullen, Marina Dimitrijevic, Jason Haas, Willie Johnson Jr., Theo Lipscomb Sr., Michael Mayo Sr., Khalif Rainey, Peggy Romo West, Russell Stamper II and John Weishan Jr. for standing with workers today.