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Monday, April 17, 2006

Minimum Wage Raise: Are You Ready For the Blog-In, Because It's Time to Go

Wifi_1Um, sorry for the title of this post, but I guess I'm still in Neil Young mode. Anyway, read all about it -- Chantal Foster over at Duke City Fix is organizing a local blog-in at this Thursday's special meeting of the Albuquerque City Council on Martin Heinrich's minimum wage proposal. Starting at 6:00 PM on April 20th, the Council will hear testimony on a proposed raise in the city's minimum wage and engage in a debate on the bill's merits. Members may well vote on the measure that evening as well.

Local bloggers of all political stripes, including DFNM, are being encouraged to live blog from the hearing. Chantal recently was instrumental in convincing the City to install free wi-fi web access in the Council Chambers, which bloggers can utilize Thursday evening to post hearing updates.

Now is the time to show up and testify on behalf of raising Albuquerque's minimum wage. Or at least to show up and cheer others on. Or at the very least, to visit local blogs that evening to keep up with what's going on at the hearing.

The Heinrich Minimum Wage Bill
A recent Albuquerque Tribune article describes Heinrich's proposal, which was crafted as a compromise measure based on many hours of work by the Councilor in negotiating with both minimum wage advocates like ACORN and business interests, including the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. Click to read Heinrich's bill. The proposal calls for a raise in the city's minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.75 an hour on January 1, 2007, to $7.15 on January 1, 2008, and to $7.50 beginning January 1, 2009.

Marty1Mayor Chavez Threatens a Veto
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Albuquerque's conservative-leaning (or something) Democratic mayor has threatened to veto Heinrich's compromise bill if it isn't further watered down. He's working in cahoots with Councilor Ken Sanchez, another alleged Democrat, who represents the primarily working class District 1. A whole bunch of Sanchez's constituents would directly benefit from Heinrich's proposal and can certainly use every penny they can get in a raise.

Now the Albuquerque Tribune is reporting that Sanchez will introduce an amended bill, to cut the wage increase by 25 cents an hour at each phase. ACORN and other fair wage advocates are opposed to further compromise. No kidding. I'd love to see Mayor Marty or Ken Sanchez live on $6.50 an hour, or even on $7.50 an hour, which ACORN wants immediately. The excuse Sanchez is making is that a raise to $6.75 an hour would drive out jobs. What employers could Sanchez and the Mayor have in mind who would rather move out of Albuquerque than pay the miserly rate of $6.75 an hour? Maybe I'll ask that question at the hearing.

How We Got Here
The original push for a boost in the minimum wage to $7.50, without a phase-in and with an annual indexing to inflation, was very narrowly defeated in last November's municipal election. Most analysts blamed the defeat on a clause that permitted access to public areas of businesses for the education of workers. A similar bill at the NM Legislature earlier this year just missed passage.

Afterwards, ACORN began a petition-gathering effort to get the $7.50 raise on this November's ballot, but suspended the project when Councilor Heinrich came up with a compromise bill that has the support of most players. Except for Mayor Chavez, Councilor Sanchez and perhaps Councilor Cadigan, all of whom claim they are Democrats. Cadigan has announced he will be submitting an amended bill as well. If the Heinrich bill is further watered down, ACORN plans to restart their petition drive to get a much stronger bill on the November ballot in Albuquerque. I'll be right there with them.

You can let your City Council know your views on a raise in the minimum wage .

April 17, 2006 at 04:17 PM in Local Politics | Permalink


We have to ask why Mayor Chavez considers himself a Democrat when he consistently sides with the powers that hold ordinary people down. The only people winning under Chavez's reign are the people who piled money into his campaign fund. Pay to play and the working people of Albuquerque be damned.

Posted by: Old Dem | Apr 18, 2006 8:57:38 AM

Well said Old dem, that's why I think we need to skip the step increases, bypass the council, mayor and get this back on the ballot and go for $7.50.

Posted by: VP | Apr 18, 2006 10:38:34 AM

I hope ACORN goes ahead with their petition drive regardless. Even the bill pushed by Heinrich lacks indexing to inflation and don't get me started in the silly long phase-in. People need this raise now! Too much compromise already and yet Chavez and the others want even more watering down to please their monied donors. Yuck.

Posted by: Pat | Apr 18, 2006 11:15:43 AM

My brother will be at the "blog in" blogging away; I have a prior engagement, but I'm sure he'll have a lot of posts up on New Mexico FBIHOP while live-blogging it from the meeting.

Posted by: LP | Apr 18, 2006 11:19:30 AM

I hope we get a HUGE turnout for this. Both bloghgers and people testifying the raise the wage.

Posted by: Pee Wee | Apr 18, 2006 12:34:59 PM

I wish all the real Dems on the council would vote against the Heinrich bill. It's way too much of a compromise. What do we gain with it? We know we can win with a much stronger measure on the ballot in November. Why is Heinrich kissing up to "business interests" so much?

Posted by: Real Dem | Apr 18, 2006 4:41:07 PM

Hard to fight a so-called Democratic mayor who works so closely with monied interests that he's forgotten what it means to be a Democrat. He has much power and clout and he's working against our interests. Very maddening. I think Heinrich is doing all he can to get the best deal possible.

Posted by: DD | Apr 19, 2006 1:14:52 PM

If you are working for minimum wage you should be in school... surviving until you get a degree is your only way out of becoming another New Mexican on welfare.

Posted by: Chantal Foster | Aug 11, 2006 2:49:03 PM

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