Cincinnati Adopts$15 'Living Wage' for City Workers

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By Bebe Raupe

April 28 — One out of every five Cincinnati city employees will soon make more thanks to a new “living wage” ordinance.

Minimum hourly pay for full-time municipal workers will jump to $15 on July 1 under the law (No. 91-2016) adopted by the Cincinnati City Council.

Passed April 27 on a 5-3 vote, the ordinance establishes a $10.10 hourly wage for part-time workers and contract employees.

Altogether, the pay hikes will benefit 1,166 workers, roughly 20 percent of the city’s workforce.

Cincinnati’s minimum wage for full-time city workers, those working 30 or more hours a week, will increase by 19 percent, from $12.58 to $15. The part-time minimum wage will bump up 22 percent, from $8.25 to $10.10.

Beginning in April 2017, the city’s wage rates will be adjusted annually in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.

Mayor Calls Hike Boon to Economy

In addition to affecting city employees, the ordinance requires companies doing business with Cincinnati to pay part-time and seasonal employees at least $11.54 if the workers receive health benefits and $13.03 if they don’t.

These companies, defined as receiving 25 percent or more of their annual income from city contracts, must pay their full-time workers $15 an hour under the law.

The ordinance is an effort “to stand up for the middle-class and lead by example,” said Mayor John Cranley (D), who proposed the measure.

The city estimates the wage hike will cost $1.2 million in its first year, a budgetary hit that drew criticism from some council members.

Councilman Christopher Smitherman (I) said the city is currently projecting a deficit of around $7 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Cincinnati has yet to negotiate several labor contracts, which could “push that deficit north of $10 million,” he said.

But Cranley said the “living wage” law is affordable and will be a boon to the city's economy, giving workers more income to spend.

The council also approved April 27 a prevailing wage ordinance (No. 93-2016) that aims to close state-law loopholes developers have used to pay workers less.

The law expands the types and number of government subsidies that trigger prevailing wage requirements. Cincinnati’s prevailing wage requirements will apply when the state’s requirements are not triggered.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bebe Raupe in Cincinnati at braupe@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com

For More Information

The living wage ordinance is available at http://src.bna.com/euI and the prevailing wage ordinance at http://src.bna.com/euJ.