Last night, by a vote of 18-11, the Eau Claire County Board approved a "Living Wage" ordinance for employees of companies that do business with the county. Starting now, all workers at these companies (such as homecare workers, janitors, service workers etc) must be paid $11.93 an hour, and by 2021 will be roughly $15 an hour!
This victory was led by many very passionate leaders on the County Board including Nick Smiar, Gerry Wilkie, Colleen Bates and more, as well as the $15 Now Coalition, Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative of Western Wisconsin, Wisconsin Jobs Now and JONAH.
We at Citizen Action think that the jobs crisis our state is seeing is not just a crisis of how many jobs there are, it’s a crisis in quality of jobs. The minimum wage has atrophied compared to overall inflation, and efforts such as Living Wage Ordinances at the local level can start to level the playing field for working people.
The real economic change from decades about that increase in the number of people are trying to raise families on the minimum wage. But bad economic policy our state and county have seen over these decades has led to fewer family-supporting jobs.
This is simply trying to create a floor so that more people who work in jobs at the behest of local government demand and other low wage jobs have enough money in their pockets and don’t need to rely on public assistance to climb the economic ladder. In fact, putting more money in workers' pockets will have a ripple effect, creating more jobs for other people as they buy goods and groceries. When workers can afford the basics in their community they help small businesses and entrepreneurs hire employees and earn paychecks. Taking the steering wheel and directing our economy towards a better path is the best way to ensure that our local economies are strong and vibrant!
Why does all this matter? How can we help our local economies through efforts like these? Check it out here