State says municipalities can't set their own minimum wage rates.
The city of Birmingham, Alabama, voted last August to increase the minimum wage for workers in the city to $10.10/per hour, but the Alabama legislature and Governor Robert Bentley moved to stop the city from implementing the increases, according to a report in the Montgomery Advertiser.
The governor signed the bill less than an hour after the Alabama Senate took the final vote on Thursday afternoon, but Birmingham City Council president Johnathan Austin said “the fight has just begun,” in a statement released.
The statement continued, “The very people who have refused to expand Medicaid in the state to help the most vulnerable amongst us receive critical medical care, are once again keeping their boots on the necks of people in desperate need of financial relief. People can not pull themselves up by the bootstraps if they can’t afford to buy boots.”
The legislation, which prevents cities and municipalities from being allowed to set their own minimum wage standards, and imposes certain limits on wages and benefits they can negotiate with employers looking to locate in their areas, was approved by a vote of 23-11, mostly along party lines in the majority Republican Senate.
While Republican supporters say the bill was designed to prevent rising costs on businesses in the cities, which could lead to business failures and job loss, Democrats criticized the legislation as interference in city affairs, and accused the Republicans of trying to end the discussion about fair compensation in the state.
Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, who voted against the bill, said “(Republicans) pick and choose. You don’t want banks regulated. Big business doesn’t want to be regulated, but you want to regulate the discussion of a fair, workable wage.”
Rep. David Faulkner, R-Mountain Brook, a Birmingham suburb, first filed the bill in last September’s special session, but the measure failed to gain enough support to receive a vote. The Birmingham City Council, fearing the legislation would be revived, voted to implement the measure effective Sunday, instead of the original two-year phase in program. Birmingham’s legal department said the vote “voided” the city’s ordinance, according to an ABC 33/40 report.
City council members say the ordinance was intended to improve the quality of life for the residents in the area, but opponents say the measure would lead to “worrisome job trends” in Birmingham and a higher minimum wage would pull older workers out of the job market.