Central Kentucky members celebrate as Lexington raises the minimum wage

Lexington minimum wage victory

Central Kentucky KFTC Chapter members are still celebrating a big victory in Lexington. On November 19 the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government voted 9-6 to raise the minimum wage in Fayette County from $7.25 to $10.10 over a period of three years.

The chapter had been working on this issue for nearly a year by lobbying council members, cosponsoring and attending rallies, speaking at council meetings, writing and calling council members, and writing op-eds and letters to the editor, among other strategies.

This victory is significant not only because it will affect an estimated 31,300 workers, according to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, but also because it makes Lexington the second city in Kentucky and only the third city in the South to raise the minimum wage.

Janet Tucker, a long-time KFTC member, former KFTC chair, and co-chair of the Working Families Campaign is excited about the victory. She first brought the issue of raising the minimum wage to the chapter.

“This was a tremendous victory for thousands of hard-working people in Lexington!”

“This was a tremendous victory for thousands of hard-working people in Lexington!” Tucker said. ”Much thanks goes out to the many people, including KFTC members, who worked on this for months, to Jennifer Messotti who championed this bill, and to Steve Kay and all members of council who voted for this bill. We realize this is not a living wage and there is still much work to be done. The Lexington Working Families Campaign will continue to work equity here in Central Kentucky.”

On July 1, 2016 the minimum wage will increase to $8.20 an hour, to $9.15 an hour on July 1, 2017, and then on July 1, 2018 to $10.10.

The chapter worked as a part of The Working Families Campaign, which included Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, the Lexington Chapter of the NAACP, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, Community Action Council of Lexington, and more.

Throughout the campaign, the LFUCG Council heard hours of testimony from those in support of the ordinance, as well as those who opposed it, but in the end the council voted in favor of the ordinance and showed progressive leadership. Those who voted in favor of the minimum wage increase were Jennifer Mossotti, James Brown, Jake Gibbs, Shevawn Akers, Peggy Henson, Angela Evans, Vice Mayor Steve Kay, and Richard Moloney. Those who voted against the ordinance was Amanda Bledsoe, Russ Hensley, Bill Farmer, Fred Brown, Jennifer Scutchfield, and Kevin Stinnett.

The Central Kentucky Chapter’s Steering Committee Representative Sarah Martin read the following statement on behalf of the chapter to the LFUCG Council the evening of the vote:

“We are the Central Kentucky chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, and we believe that all Lexington’s workers deserve a wage that can sustain themselves and their families. Our work to raise Lexington’s wage is led by those of us who are low-wage earners. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support that Lexington has shown for this ordinance, from the local media local business owners, and from the people who recognize us in our workplaces, and offer encouraging words. It’s clear that Lexington is ready, that we can do this. We thank the council for reflecting the local momentum by holding the line on a $10.10 increase. We—the low-wage workers whose lives would be impacted by raising the wage--say this: We work hard, we make valuable contributions to our community, and we are excited by the possibility of fairer wages.”

As the chapter members celebrate the victory they know that while it is definitely a step in the right direction, they will not stop there. In negotiations for passage of this ordinance, a raise for tipped workers was excluded, as well as tying the ordinance to the Consumer Price Index. And members are excited by the “Fight for $15” campaign.

Jesus Gonzalez is a member and a tipped wage worker who worked on the campaign even after tipped wages were removed from the ordinance. “We won a raise to $10.10 and that is huge. However, we still have work to do. We need a full living wage and to help tipped workers. The tipped minimum wage has been $2.13 since the 80s. It is time to bring those wages to 2016 standards.”

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