Raising the wage in Fayette County: what you need to know to get involved

The Central Kentucky Chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth wants Fayette County to raise the wage! CKY KFTC supports a Lexington Fayette Urban County Government ordinance to raise the minimum wage in Lexington to $10.10 per hour over a period of three years. Right now, the ordinance is in the Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee of the Lexington Fayette County Government. The next hearing is set for Tuesday, June 23rd at 1 p.m. at Council Chambers located at 200 E. Main Street. Supporters will rally before the meeting at 11 a.m. at the Courthouse Square in Lexington and walk to the meeting together. However, KFTC members, some members of the LFUCG Council, and allies are pushing for an earlier hearing and for the ordinance to be heard by the entire council by swiftly moving it out of the budget and finance committee.

CKY KFTC members are getting involved and speaking out. Jesus Gonzalez wrote an op-ed that was published in the Lexington Herald-Leader. The Op-Ed has gotten hundreds of shares online and resonated with readers all over Central Kentucky. Jesus is a tipped-wage worker and a single father who struggles to make ends meet and is actively involved in the campaign to raise the wage. “If you think anyone can survive off of $7.25 an hour, you’ve never had to. If you think anyone should work 40 hours a week and not be able to support themselves, you’ve never worked a day in your life,” he said.

CKY KFTC member Janet Tucker is co-chairing the Working Families Campaign, a coalition of community organizations and individuals who are working on raising the wage in Lexington. “It is important that the people who work in Lexington can afford to live here.  People in Lexington need to come together and oppose paying anyone poverty wages. 46% of minimum wage workers are women.  As a woman, who was a single parent making  greater than minimum wage, I know how hard it was to make ends meet.  So I know how incredibly difficult it is for those making minimum wage.  We need to ‘Raise the Wage’ here in Lexington,” Tucker said.

CKY KFTC member Sharon Murphy is speaking out about her own experience as a low-wage worker.  “I had no choice to settle for a part-time job. Even if I did receive 40 hours a week, after taxes at $9.75 an hour I would bring home just under $300 a week. I can't afford an apartment; therefore, I stay with a friend. I'm not a high school student nor am I a single a mother. I'm a college graduate with two degrees – a Bachelor and Masters.”

 

What the Research Shows:

The ordinance proposes to raise the minimum wage in Lexington to $10.10 per hour over a period of three years. After three years, the wage would be set to inflation. The ordinance also raises the wage for tipped-wage workers, which hasn’t been increased since 1991. The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KCEP) cites that this ordinance would directly lift the wages for an estimated 20 percent of those who work in Lexington/Fayette County, or 31,300 workers. The minimum wage increase would provide relief from stagnant or declining wages for many workers on the bottom, and is supported by an extensive body of research suggesting little to no harm to employment.

Here are some more statistics from KCEP:

  • Ninety percent of direct beneficiaries are at least 20 years old. In fact, there are more workers over the age of 50 who would benefit than there are teenagers.
  • Fifty-seven percent of workers with who would benefit directly are women.
  • Seventy-six percent of workers with family incomes below the poverty line would benefit from an increase.
  • Twenty-six percent of workers benefiting have a child in the household
  • A family with one parent and one child needs $43,368 to make ends meet, but a full-time, year-round minimum wage worker makes only $15,080
  • Tipped workers are twice as likely to fall under the poverty line as all workers, and waiters are almost three times more likely. Because of their low wages, 46 percent of tipped workers and their families rely on public assistance

Furthermore, KCEP found that “claims that increases in the minimum wage will eliminate a large number of jobs are not supported by the substantial body of research on this question. The minimum wage is one of the most extensively-studied topics in economics, and the conclusion of a vast body of evidence is that modest increases have little to no effect on employment.”

Get Involved!

Speak Out: If you are a directly-impacted person and want to speak out on this issue or get more involved, please contact CKY KFTC Chapter Organizer Beth Howard at bethhoward@kftc.org. There are a variety of ways to have your voice heard, such as speaking at the upcoming LFUCG Budget and Finance Hearing, speaking at upcoming rallies and events, writing letters to the editor, or telling your story to council members in lobby meetings.

Reach Out: The Lexington Fayette Urban County Council needs to hear from you. Calling your Council Member and letting them know you support raising the wage in Fayette County is one of the most effective things you can do. Go to www.lexingtonky.gov for your council member’s phone number. And, take a moment and email the council members at : councilmembers@lexingtonky.gov. This email address will send your email to every council member. It’s an easy, efficient way to make a big difference and to make your voice heard on this issue!

Show Up:. The Working Families Coalition is organizing a series of educational events and rallies to move this issue forward. Join us!  Large numbers of people make a big difference and show that people care about this issue. See calendar of events below.

Upcoming Dates:

  • Raise the Wage Strategy Session: Lessons From Louisville: Wednesday, April 22nd at Quaker Meeting House located at 649 Price Ave. in Lexington
  • Raise the Wage Rally: Saturday, May 16th at 11 a.m. at The Courthouse Square in Lexington
  • Raise the Wage Hearing and Rally: Lexington Fayette Urban County Council Budget and Finance Committee Meeting, Tuesday, June 23rd at 1 p.m. in Council Chambers located at 200 E. Main Street. * Rally before the meeting at 11 a.m. at the Courthouse Square in Lexington
Issue Area(s):