Dane County $10.10 Per Hour State Minimum Wage Advisory Question (November 2014)
|Not on ballot|
The measure enacted a county resolution calling for the state to increase the statewide minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. This advisory referendum question, which had no direct legislative effect, was put on the ballot in a cooperative effort with several other counties and cities. The group behind the request to state lawmakers was called Raise Wisconsin, and their petition to the state was featured on November election ballots due to petition drives in some cases and direct legislative resolutions from county boards of supervisors in others. In the case of Dane County, the county supervisors put the advisory question on the ballot themselves.
|Dane County $10.10 Per Hour State Minimum Wage Advisory Question|
Election results via: Dane County Clerk's Office
Due to 2005 Assembly Bill 49, which prohibited local government agencies from enacting a minimum wage different from the state minimum wage, the counties and cities that participated in the Raise Wisconsin referendum cannot directly enact a higher wage requirement. This leaves the advisory referendum, which would serve to urge state lawmakers to boost the compensation of low-wage workers, as the only opportunity to impact the issue through local ballots. At the time of the November 2014 election, the state minimum wage was $7.25 per hour.
History of AB 49
On March 30, 2004, Madison, Wisconsin, enacted a minimum wage ordinance to increase the city's hourly wage to $7.75 by 2008. In 2004, the federal and state hourly minimum wages were $5.15. The Madison Common Council highlighted the city's high cost of living versus other parts of the state and country. They argued that state and federal minimum wages “were inadequate to allow workers to meet their family’s basic needs.” Madison utilized “statutory home rule” to increase the minimum wage. Statutory home rule permitted the city to enact legislation “for the government and good order of the city, for its commercial benefit, and for the health, safety, and welfare of the public.”
An organization called Main Street Coalition for Economic Growth, Inc. sued Madison in the Dane County Circuit Court, arguing that the ordinance was beyond the scope of municipal power. Judge Maryann Sumi denied the injunction, saying the city’s minimum-wage ordinance was “a valid exercise of municipal home-rule power.”
In 2005, a group of state representatives introduced Assembly Bill 49. AB 49 was approved and provided that “[a] city, village, town, or county may not enact and administer an ordinance establishing a living wage” unless that ordinance adheres to state minimum wage laws. Moreover, it voided any local minimum wage ordinance already in effect. Governor Jim Doyle (D) signed the bill in exchange for an increase in the statewide minimum wage to $6.50. Therefore, Madison's minimum wage ordinance was invalidated.
$10.10 vs. $15
The Dane County Board of Supervisors voted to place the advisory referendum on the ballot following a two and a half hour debate on June 26, 2014. The debate regarded altering the resolution's text to read "$15" rather than "$10.10." Proponents of a $15 an hour minimum wage attended in an attempt to persuade the board to amend the ballot question.
Theodros Shibabaw, an organizer with 15 Now, stated,
|“||We've heard why $15 is closer to a living wage and not $10.10, so if that's the case then where does this figure $10.10 an hour come form. The only thing that makes sense is political calculations. This is what federally the Democratic Party began proposing... as something that would look like raising the minimum wage, but not upset also their own corporate donors who would not be comfortable with a real sharp increase in the minimum wage. Think about it? $15 an hour is just about $30,000 a year. Who really thinks that's living lavishly when corporations are raking it in? They [Democrats] are promoting $10.10 an hour on a national level as nothing more than talking points for the midterm elections and to try to get people out to vote.||”|
—Theodros Shibabaw, 
Those backing a $15 amendment to the referendum were representatives of 15 Now, TAA, AFT 4848, AFSCME (locals 171, 2412, 60), IWW, the Green Party, Progressive Dane, 9to5, National Organization of Women, Socialist Alternative and the International Socialist Organization.
Bruce Colborn of the Wisconsin SEIU criticized calls for amending the referendum to read "$15." He responded,
|“||We [SEIU] represent a lot of low wage workers. Our workers face times where there ability to negotiate 10, 15, 25 cents actually becomes a victory to them... I'm really bothered by someone who is going to degrade a $3 increase in their pay. $7.25 to $10.10, that's not a small increase, that's not what is should be, but that's important to the people who get it, it's crucial, that's life and death, that's not throwing something away... That's a 40 percent change in their pay, so let's not trivialize something that makes a difference in people's lives... This is a statewide effort. This isn't something that is just about Dane County or Madison. This is something that we have to win all over the state and we have to think about how we are going to win...||”|
Brian Rothgopy, Field Coordinator at Wisconsin Jobs Now, also replied to critics, saying, "We need a mandate statewide from communities across this state, from every corner of this state, that is calling for the state legislature to raise the minimum wage... [This] would send the loudest possible message to our legislators in the state capitol that they need to take action now to raise the minimum wage..."
Supervisor Al Matano, in response to the debate, sought to amend the resolution to read "$15" instead of "$10.10." Matano's proposal was seconded by Supervisor Michele Ritt. However, the amendment was shot down in a voice vote.
Supervisor John Hendrick, backed by Matano, offered a second alternative. His amendment would have created an additional question, alongside the original. The second question would have read as:
|“||Should the State of Wisconsin allow Dane County to adopt a minimum wage of $15 per hour?||”|
Supervisors Hendrick and Matano's amendment received the vote of Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner. Nonetheless, the amendment failed in a 3 to 28 vote.
Text of measure
The question on the ballot was:
Should the State of Wisconsin increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour?
The full text of the resolution that was approved by a "yes" vote on this question:
REFERENDUM ON INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE IN WISCONSIN
The current minimum wage in Wisconsin is $7.25/ hour. With that wage, a full-time worker with a 40-hour a week job earns $15,080 a year.
On that salary, a resident of Dane County cannot afford the basic fundamental needs of housing and food. According to a 2014 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a 1-bedroom apartment in Dane County, one must earn $14.27/hour, double the state’s hourly minimum wage amount.
Dane County has serious racial disparity issues. Individuals working minimum wages jobs in Dane County are disproportionately minority. According to the Race to Equity – Racial Disparities in Dane County Report, released in October of 2013 by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, 54% of African American Dane County residents earn poverty wages or less, compared to 8.7% of white. African American children in Dane County are 13 times more likely to be growing up in a family in poverty than while children.
The United States is experiencing an unprecedented rise in income inequality between its highest paid and minimum wage workers. According to the Pew Research Center, America’s current income inequality is the highest it has been since the 1920s, just before and during the great depression. The top 10% of Americans earn 80% of the national wealth. The top 1% earns 24% of the wealth. The average CEO in America earns 380 times more than the average worker, let alone a minimum wage worker.
If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, since 1968, it would be nearly $11/hour today. If the minimum wage had kept pace with worker productivity, since 1968, it would be nearly $20/hour today. If the minimum wage kept pace with the growth of wealth for the top 1% of the United States, since 1968, it would be nearly $29/hour today. Dane County, Wisconsin, and the United States will not recover from the current economic downturn if full time workers do not earn enough money to survive—to feed and house themselves, their children and their families.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research has found that an increase in the minimum wage does not decrease the number of available jobs or negatively impact on the economy and the number of jobs available. Instead, it increases job productivity and decreases work turnover.
Across the nation, workers have been fighting for a $15/hour living wage. This includes workers and unions in Madison, Dane County, and Wisconsin. Increasing the state minimum wage is an essential first step towards ensuring survivable, living wages are paid to workers. Wisconsin’s minimum wage must be increased to reflect a base minimum hourly wage needed to support residing within the state. But, it also must be adjustable for local communities, to reflect the realities of living in areas, such as Dane County, with higher costs of living.
Now, therefore be it resolved, that the following referendum question be placed on the November 2014 ballot: “Should the State of Wisconsin increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour?”
Be it finally resolved that the Dane County Clerk shall take all necessary steps to implement this resolution.
—Dane County Board of Supervisors
Raise Wisconsin was the main group orchestrating the many local efforts to request the state to raise the minimum wage.
Wisconsin Jobs Now also supported the effort to pressure the state legislature to raise the minimum wage.
United Wisconsin also backed the effort.
Arguments in favor
Peter Rickman, the Campaign Director for Raise Wisconsin, said, “It’s time to raise the wage so that we can raise our economy and raise Wisconsin. Working people in our state need a raise, and we will win the higher wages necessary to address staggering income inequality, to increase economic opportunity, and to improve living standards.”
Jennifer Epps-Addison, Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, said, “For too long, our communities have needed more economic opportunity and security. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 is a critical first step to transform the low-wage jobs of today into family-supporting jobs that can build a new middle class for Milwaukee’s future.”
Kevin Kane, the Lead Organizer for Citizen Action of Wisconsin, pointed out that Wisconsin, at the time of the referendum, was surrounded by states with a higher minimum wage, but the state's job market, as well as the economy generally, was lagging. Kane said the issue was that there was not enough purchasing power to boost the economy and provide for thriving businesses. The goal of activists seeking a higher minimum wage was to put more money in the hands of Wisconsinites, allowing them to spend more at local businesses. According to the Raise Wisconsin website, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would inject over $517 million into the Wisconsin economy and would generate 3,800 new jobs to meet the demand from the surge in the economy.
Kenosha Supervisor Erin Decker said that the referendum could simply be an effort to sway the fall election against Gov. Scott Walker (R). Decker said, “There is an organized effort to put this on the ballot statewide, mostly in counties that they hope to turn out one side of the aisle to vote, so they vote against the current governor."
Other Raise Wisconsin measures:
City of Neenah $10.10 Per Hour State Minimum Wage Advisory Question (November 2014)
City of Menasha $10.10 Per Hour State Minimum Wage Advisory Question (November 2014)
City of Appleton $10.10 Per Hour State Minimum Wage Advisory Question (November 2014)
Milwaukee County $10.10 Per Hour State Minimum Wage Advisory Question (November 2014)
Kenosha County $10.10 Per Hour State Minimum Wage Advisory Question (November 2014)
Eau Claire County $10.10 Per Hour State Minimum Wage Advisory Question (November 2014)
Dane County $10.10 Per Hour State Minimum Wage Advisory Question (November 2014)
City of Oakland Minimum Wage Increase Initiative, Measure FF (November 2014)
City of San Francisco Minimum Wage Increase Referred Measure, Proposition J (November 2014)
City of Eureka "Fair Wage Act" Minimum Wage Initiative, Measure R (November 2014)
Raise Wisconsin minimum wage increase advisory referendums
City of San Diego $12 per Hour Minimum Wage Initiative (November 2014)
City of San Diego $13.09 per Hour Minimum Wage Measure (November 2014)
City of Las Cruces Minimum Wage Increase Initiative (November 2014)
Washington D.C. Minimum Wage Initiative (November 2014)
City of Seattle $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Increase Veto Referendum (November 2014)
City of Seattle $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Initiative (November 2014)
City of San Francisco Minimum Wage Act of 2014 Initiative (November 2014)
Philadelphia Minimum Wage Ordinance, Proposition 1 (May 2014)
City of Chicago $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Referendum (March 2014)
SeaTac "Good Jobs Initiative", Proposition 1 (November 2013)
City of Richmond Minimum Wage Increase Ballot Question (November 2014)
Alaska Minimum Wage Increase, Ballot Measure 3 (2014)
Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
South Dakota Increased Minimum Wage, Initiated Measure 18 (2014)
California Minimum Wage Supplement for Home Health Workers (2014)
Idaho Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
Massachusetts Minimum Wage Increase Initiative (2014)
Michigan Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
New Mexico Minimum Wage Amendment (2014)
- Local wages and pay on the ballot
- Dane County, Wisconsin ballot measures
- November 4, 2014 ballot measures in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Election Watch, "Voters to see medicaid, minimum wage referendums on November ballot," June 30, 2014
- BizTimes, "MADISON – Several Wisconsin counties to hold minimum wage advisory referendums," June 27, 2014
- Wisconsin Legislature website, "2005 Assembly Bill 49," accessed July 8, 2014
- Burchill, K. 2007. "Madison’s Minimum-Wage Ordinance, Section 104.001, and the Future of Home Rule in Wisconsin." Wisconsin Law Review 1: 151-199
- Wisconsin Legislature, "2005 Assembly Bill 49 History," accessed June 30, 2014
- Wisconsin Legislature, "2005 Assembly Bill 49 Text," accessed June 30, 2014
- City of Madison, "Dane County Board of Supervisors: Meeting of June 26, 2014," accessed July 8, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- 15Now, "15 Now Movement in Wisconsin Intensifies," July 4, 2014
- County of Dane, "Minutes for June 26, 2014," accessed July 8, 2014
- Dane County Government website, "Voters to Weigh in on Minimum Wage," June 30, 2014, archived July 9, 2014
- Raise Wisconsin website, accessed July 8, 2014
- Fox 6 News, "Raise the minimum wage: County Board votes to place referendum on the November ballot," June 26, 2014
- United Wisconsin website, accessed July 8, 2014
- Ballotpedia staff writer Josh Altic, "Phone interview with Kevin Kane, Lead Organizer of Citizen Action of Wisconsin," July 8, 2014
- Raise Wisconsin website, "Facts and Figures," accessed July 8, 2014
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