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City of Las Cruces Minimum Wage Increase Initiative (November 2014)

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A City of Las Cruces Minimum Wage Increase Initiative ballot question was not put on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of Las Cruces in Dona Ana County, New Mexico, because it was approved directly by the city council in a four against three vote.[1]

This initiative increased the minimum wage in the city of Las Cruces according to the following time table:[2]

  • $8.40 per hour in January 2015
  • $9.20 per hour in January 2016
  • $10.10 per hour in January 2017

After 2017, the minimum wage was set by this measure to be tied to inflation.[2]

The measure also required the following hourly minimum wages for tipped workers:[3]

  • $3.36 in January 2015 - 40% of total minimum wage
  • $4.70 in January 2016 - 50% of total minimum wage
  • $5.05 in January 2017 - 60% of total minimum wage

The initiative was sponsored by a group called NM CAFé.[2]

The initiative proponents collected enough signatures to force a reading by the city council. The council had the option of either approving the initiative directly or putting it before voters on the November election ballot. on September 8, 2014, the council voted four against three to simply approve the measure themselves.[2][1]

The county elections office needed to know by September 8, 2014, whether the city planned to put this measure on the November ballot or not.[2]

As of January 1, 2014, the New Mexico state minimum wage was $7.5 per hour.

Background

The Las Cruces City Council approved its own minimum wage increase in June 2014. The council's measure was designed to increase the hourly minimum wage of the city to $8 per hour in July 2015, $8.50 in January 2016 and, starting on January 1, 2017, would have increased the minimum wage according to the annual cost of living increase (COLA), limited to not more than 3 percent a year.[2]

This council ordinance and the initiative ordinance created a conflict with each other and required some sort of resolution according to City Attorney Pete Connelly.[2]

Support

Supporters

The group called NM CAFé was behind the initiative.[3]

Arguments in favor

Supporters argued that Las Cruces had a low minimum wage compared to other cities in New Mexico, pointing to the $8.60 per hour minimum wage in Albuquerque and the $10.51 per hour minimum wage in Santa Fe. Supporters also pointed to the fact that, in its comparison of wages from December 2011 to December 2012, the online publication 247wallst.com listed Las Cruces as number seven in its top-ten list of U.S. cities "where wages are plummeting" as a reason to approve the minimum wage initiative.[3]

Opposition

In general, opponents of minimum wage increases argued that the free market works best when it is actually free and that an imposed minimum wage could hurt businesses and cripple the job market. Those opposed specifically to local minimum wage increases argued that if a minimum wage is imposed in a city, but not in the surrounding areas or cities, it would put the city at a competitive disadvantage with regard to the job market. Critics said that businesses may choose to relocate or start up in the surrounding areas rather than in the city because of a higher minimum wage requirement.

Reports and analyses

NM CAFé

Note: NM CAFé was the group behind this initiative and did not claim to be unbiased about this issue.

According to NM CAFé, the following is a breakdown of the minimum wage workers in Las Cruces in 2014:[3]

  • 17,883 workers earned $15,000 per year or less
  • 64.3 percent were Hispanic
  • 58.5 percent were female - leaving 41.5 percent male
  • 36.7 percent were between the ages of 30 and 54

NM CAFé also provided the following information about which types of employers provided the most low-wage jobs, breaking down the employment sectors that featured the largest portions of the 17,883 workers earning annual salaries of $15,000 or less:[3]

  • Hotel/Hospitality/Food Service businesses employed 4,238 workers at salaries of $15,000 or less - 23.7 percent
  • Retail businesses employed 2,993 - 17.6 percent
  • Healthcare/Home Health/Childcare employers employed 2,993 - 16.7 percent
  • Educations Services featured 1,509 workers with salaries of $15,000 or less - 8.4 percent
  • Big businesses with 10 employees or more employed 11,800 - 66 percent - of the city's minimum wage workers

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in New Mexico

The group NM CAFé collected 6,031 signatures in five weeks to qualify this measure for the ballot. The city council was then required to choose between enacting it directly or putting it before voters. On September 8, 2014, the council voted four against three to enact the ordinance, bypassing an election.[1][3]

Related measures

Local

Approveda City of Oakland Minimum Wage Increase Initiative, Measure FF (November 2014)
Approveda City of San Francisco Minimum Wage Increase Referred Measure, Proposition J (November 2014)
Defeatedd City of Eureka "Fair Wage Act" Minimum Wage Initiative, Measure R (November 2014)
Approveda Raise Wisconsin minimum wage increase advisory referendums
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of San Diego $12 per Hour Minimum Wage Initiative (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of San Diego $13.09 per Hour Minimum Wage Measure (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Las Cruces Minimum Wage Increase Initiative (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Washington D.C. Minimum Wage Initiative (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Seattle $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Increase Veto Referendum (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Seattle $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Initiative (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of San Francisco Minimum Wage Act of 2014 Initiative (November 2014)
Approveda Philadelphia Minimum Wage Ordinance, Proposition 1 (May 2014)
Approveda City of Chicago $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Referendum (March 2014)
Approveda SeaTac "Good Jobs Initiative", Proposition 1 (November 2013)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Richmond Minimum Wage Increase Ballot Question (November 2014)

Statewide

Approveda Alaska Minimum Wage Increase, Ballot Measure 3 (2014)
Approveda Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
Approveda South Dakota Increased Minimum Wage, Initiated Measure 18 (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot California Minimum Wage Supplement for Home Health Workers (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Idaho Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Massachusetts Minimum Wage Increase Initiative (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Michigan Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot New Mexico Minimum Wage Amendment (2014)


See also

External links

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References