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Cleveland to Raise Minimum Pay for City Employees to $15 an Hour

Demonstrators call for a citywide increase in the minimum wage in Cleveland in February this year. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
Demonstrators call for a citywide increase in the minimum wage in Cleveland in February this year.

The Cleveland mayor’s office says about 500 city workers would see their pay rise to a minimum of $15 an hour under a proposal by Mayor Frank Jackson.

Jackson, who is running for a fourth term this year, said in a news release that the increase would apply both to union and to non-union workers. It would go into effect April 2018.

Some workers represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 1 would see their pay increase, the union said. Exactly how many wasn’t clear. Local 1’s membership includes janitors at the airport and city buildings.

Sandra Ellington, Local 1’s executive chair, said she’d like a minimum wage increase for all workers.

“We just want our neighbors to have it,” Ellington said. “We want our friends to have it. We want our family to have it. We want to be equal across the board as much as we can.”

A different branch of the SEIU, Local 1199, had more pointed words for the mayor.

In an email to ideastream, public affairs director Anthony Caldwell wrote it was “welcomed news” that workers would get a raise, but called the move a “political stunt” by Jackson.

Local 1199 endorsed opponent Jeff Johnson for mayor in this year’s election and pushed for a ballot issue increasing minimum pay citywide.

Earlier this year, a court threw out a bill from the Ohio legislature that would, among other things, ban local minimum wage increases.

The minimum wage campaign withdrew ballot issue petitions after the passage of the ban. Caldwell said Local 1199 hadn’t decided whether to make a second attempt at the ballot.

A statement from Jackson’s office said he opposes a wage increase that applies only to workers within the city limits, but would back a statewide or national raise. 

Nick Castele is a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media.