Mayor Dobies Proposes Living Wage Ordinance, Setting $15+ Per Hour Wage Standard For City Contracts, Grants

Photo credit Jackson photographer Jennifer Jacobs (https://marrymemichigan.com)

Dobies Says City Should Not Exacerbate Poverty Via Public Funds, And Should Set Policy To Raise Wages For All

Jackson, MI — Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies today introduced a new Living Wage Ordinance that would set a $15.68 wage standard for city employees, government contractors, and companies receiving public subsidies, to ensure that public spending creates good family-supporting jobs. Dobies said the effort seeks to use city funds to confront the poverty many face in Jackson, and comes after defeating efforts to criminalize poverty through an anti-panhandling ordinance.

“Criminalizing poverty is not a solution. As a city, we will continue to confront the poverty we face with bold, proven policy solutions,” said Mayor Derek DOBIES. “When we expend public dollars, assign contracts, or award grants we should do so with wages that do not normalize or exacerbate the poverty that we see here.”

In his memo to the City Council, Dobies indicated that the decline of the minimum wage, relative to the cost of living, has contributed to the growth of income inequality and poverty over the past three decades. Nearly 1 in 3 now live under the federal poverty level in the City of Jackson, and even more are asset limited, and income constrained per the most recent United Way Financial Hardship Study.

“We’ve seen the pandemic take a toll on working people in our city, many of whom were already struggling to get by. This compassionate policy is one tool that we can use to get people back on their feet and build financial stability,” said Ken TOLL, CEO of the United Way of Jackson County. “In passing this policy, the City can also raise the standards for what other private sector businesses and nonprofits pay their employees through competition and market forces.”

The ordinance would set an initial $15.68/hr. living wage rate for any contractor, vendor, or grantee of city funds. The rate is derived from a MIT model for the living wage of two working adults with one child in the Jackson Metropolitan Statistical Area. The ordinance also provides a lower rate of $13.32/hr. for employers that provide healthcare to its employees. Under the proposal, both rates would adjust annually by percentages equivalent to any increases in the federal poverty rate.

“Jackson deserves a living wage to raise people’s standard of living and restore economic power to working people,” said Mayor DOBIES. “As we continue to expend transformational city resources, particularly with the receipt of $32 million dollars in American Rescue Plan funds, we must do so in a way that does not continue a race to the bottom in wages. This is a responsible way to invest these resources — in the people.”

Since the early 1990s, more than 120 cities and counties across the country have passed living-wage ordinances. More than 15 similar policies exist across Michigan in cities like Ann Arbor, Ferndale, Lansing, Monroe, Ypsilanti, Southgate and in counties like Ingham, Macomb and Washtenaw. These ordinances vary, but they try to pay employees a wage that would allow them to live above the federal poverty level, and have those rates adjusted annually.

The proposed ordinance is available for review here. Dobies said he plans to introduce the policy at the September 28th City Council meeting.

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Proud father. Devoted husband. Mayor of the City of Jackson, MI.

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Derek Dobies

Derek Dobies

Proud father. Devoted husband. Mayor of the City of Jackson, MI.

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