Regional
4:28 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

New Mexico Advocacy Groups Assist In Las Cruces Minimum Wage Effort

Credit Javier Benavidez, Center for Civic Policy

 

   The groups Progress Now New Mexico and the Center for Civic Policy are assisting in the effort to increase the minimum wage in Las Cruces.  A ballot measure to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in phases has been forwarded to the city of Las Cruces for approval.  

The proposed ordinance was submitted to the City Clerk for review so that a ballot initiative process can begin that includes circulating and collecting approximately 2,300 valid Las Cruces registered voter  signatures.

What does the ordinance outline? “The City of Las Cruces Minimum Wage Ordinance” clearly outlines in 8 pages how employers who require a business license in Las Cruces must compensate their hourly and tipped employees as defined in  the draft ordinance.

The wage requirements are outlined as follows:

(a) Beginning on January 1, 2015, the minimum wage shall be an hourly rate of $8.40 an hour; beginning on January 1, 2016 the minimum wage shall be an hourly rate of $9.20 an hour; and beginning on January 1, 2017 the minimum wage shall be an hourly rate of $10.10 an hour.

(b) Beginning January 1, 2018 and on January 1 of each year thereafter, the minimum wage provided for under this ordinance shall be adjusted by the increase, if any, in the cost of living.

For tipped employees the wage requirements are outlined as follows:

(d) A tipped employee shall be paid no less than the following tipped minimum wage:

1) beginning January 1, 2015, 40% of the minimum wage required in subsection (b) as of that date;

2) beginning January 1. 2016, 50% of the minimum wage required in subsection (b) as of that date, and

3)  beginning January 1, 2017 and thereafter, 60% of the minimum wage required in subsection (b) as of that  date, and as adjusted by subsection (c) after January 1, 2018. The tipped minimum wage, when combined with tips actually retained and reported as income for Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)  purposes by the employee, shall equal not less than the minimum wage as provided in subsection (b).

What’s next?

“Now we wait to hear back from the City Clerk and City Attorney to get any changes or edits to how the ordinance is administered or outlined. After that we hope to begin collecting signatures in early May.” said Executive Director of CAFé Sarah Nolan. “We are excited that Las Cruces voters and elected leaders can be part of closing the wage gap for women and over time help families make ends meet,” she  continued.

Who makes minimum wage in Las Cruces?

CAFé states there are an estimated 18,000 people in Las Cruces who earn $15,000 annually, which is about $288/week, 64% of those earners are Hispanic, 58% are women and nearly 60% are between the ages of 23-55; 66% of low wage earners are employed by businesses with 100 or more employees in Las Cruces.

Rabbi Larry Karol is optimistic about the affects this could have on the quality of life for many in the  City, “As faith leaders and employers we have to lead and provide in ways that seek out the welfare of as  many brothers and sisters as possible.”  Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Diocese of Las Cruces sent  out a letter to parishes with the reminder that, “...wages and work are tied to human dignity, family, and, ultimately, a stable society.”

A number of business groups have raised concern about a possible minimum wage increase through policy literature and at public meetings.  

The move for a Las Cruces ordinance comes after a successful voter initiative in Albuquerque that raised the minimum wage by one dollar and also included a provision for yearly inflation adjustments.  The Las Cruces Bulletin reports that a number of a local business owners will propose a one dollar hike in the minimum wage to the Las Cruces City Council with a capped cost-of-living adjustment.

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