Minimum Wage Hike In Cleveland Faces Opposition In City Council

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Later this month, Cleveland City Council could begin considering an ordinance increasing the city’s minimum wage from eight-ten an hour to fifteen dollars. The regional chapter of the Service Employee’s International Union, or SEIU, funded the 15 dollar wage campaign. They needed to collect five thousand signatures. They say they submitted twenty eight thousand. If the board of elections certifies the petition, the measure goes to city council.

Council President Kevin Kelley says he’d support a statewide fifteen dollar wage. But thinks this measure won’t do much to address income inequality.

“I don’t know why they didn’t choose a city like North Olmstead or Beachwood or somewhere where there’s a high percentage of retail operations, where presumably there’s a lot of people working for the wages that they’re trying to combat,” says Kelley.

SEIU spokesman Anthony Caldwell says Cleveland was chosen because it’s at the center of the region’s economy. And, he says, because residents need a higher wage.

“Any political leader who wants to say that they want to see it from some other angle is just saying that they don’t support the $15 minimum wage, plain and simple,” says Caldwell.

If city council doesn’t pass the measure, Caldwell says his group would put the issue to voters in November. Fifteen cities and states passed a fifteen dollar wage last year, according to the National Employment Law Project, and more than a dozen more are considering one this year. 

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