An Open Letter To The Lexington City Council From The Central Kentucky Chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

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 the ordinance that would finally raise the tipped wage, and that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10. We’ve seen this support in the local media, from 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.

Recently, however, the support from some city council members has wavered. Now, we’re at a juncture. There are two proposals on the table: one that would raise the wage to $10.10, and another more recent proposal that would raise the wage only to $9.00.

We want to be clear that a $9.00 minimum wage is not acceptable. $10.10 would make a difference in people’s lives, but it is a compromise from the national movement to raise the wage to $15.00. All the local momentum has been supporting a $10.10 wage, and that’s where it should stay.

If this ordinance is now in negotiations, those negotiations should include ways it can be strengthened.  It can include stronger provisions for tipped workers by following the steps of the proposed statewide bill and setting the tipped wage at 70% of the minimum wage, and including an uncapped cost of living increase. Wages for tipped workers have not been raised in over twenty years.

The proposal to water down the wage in the proposed ordinance was done in the name of low-wage workers, out of a concern that raising our wages would mean that we’d lose public benefits. We won’t speculate if this concern is authentic, or if it’s simply a convenient cover. But to respond to it, 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 want fair wages that are enough to sustain our families and ourselves.

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