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Columbus Raises Minimum Wage For City Employees To $15 Per Hour

Gabe Rosenberg

Columbus city leaders say all full-time permanent city employees will now make at least $15 per hour.

Mayor Andrew Ginther says state lawmakers took away municipalities' ability to raise the minimum wage, so Columbus officials decided to raise the pay of city employees.

“We believe that anybody who works 40 hours a week and is working hard and playing by the rules should not live in poverty in this community,” Ginther says. “And so we're excited today to announce that we've gotten to that goal a year ahead of schedule.”

He says it's a step toward ensuring Columbus residents make a 'living wage,' which is enough money to meet their basic needs.

“We think it's a first step. We think it's the beginning,” Ginther says. “We know that depending on how many children you have in your family and how many wage earners you have, you know, it may need to be more than that. But we believe this was a first step, a start.”

Columbus spokeswoman Robin Davis says the city has been working towards this goal "for some time. We were able to get the last employee over the $15/hour mark in the last few days."

Columbus is the eighth-largest employer in Central Ohio with about 8,500 full-time employees.

Their move to wages of at least $15 dollars per hour follows similar efforts by large local employers like OhioHealth, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio State University.

However, Liliana Rivera Baiman of progressive group Yes We Can Columbus says in an emailed statement that the city should also pay part-time and temporary employees a minimum of $15 per hour. 

"As a campaign that has supported a $15 an hour minimum wage for city workers from day one, we have to question the timing of today's re-announcement regarding full time, permanent city workers - a mere three weeks before municipal elections. We believe that all city employees, including part-time and temporary employees excluded by this initiative, should make at least $15 an hour. In addition, the city should enforce its own living wage job requirements by rescinding tax abatements when recipients fail to live up to their promises, rather than simply amending abatement agreements to meet the needs of wealthy corporations and big developers."

The city wanted to institute the new minimum wage for its employees by 2020.

Copyright 2020 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.

Adora Namigadde