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Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett proposes $15 hourly wage for city employees

Tom Barrett
Posted at 11:54 AM, Jun 16, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has proposed a wage increase for city employees, ensuring that everyone makes at least $15 an hour.

“Our employees should be paid a living wage. This is a matter of fairness and respect for all people who work in city government,” Mayor Barrett said. “There are several hundred employees who will see an increase in their pay if my proposal wins approval.”

He directed the city's Department of Employee Relations to begin the process of raising the lowest city wage to $15 per hour. The proposal still has to be approved by the Common Council.

According to the city, the lowest-paid employees currently make just over $8 an hour. Wisconsin's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

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"This is in our efforts not only to be competitive, but to treat our employees fairly and compensate them appropriately," said Director of the Department of Employee Relations Makda Fessahaye.

Fessahaye says over 400 employees could be impacted by the change. Mayor Barrett said the increase in wages will cost about $1.4 million per year and the extra cost of the wage changes will be managed in the city budget and included in the mayor's 2022 budget proposal.

"We know there is a cost to this, but there's also an issue of equity here. And that means making sure our employees are treated fairly," Mayor Barrett said.

Some library circulation assistants, school crossing guards, temporary election workers, fire cadets and police aides would be impacted by the adjustment as well. The formal process to increase the wages includes a change in the city's salary ordinance, and that proposal could be approved by July 7 and become effective in September.

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