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Business & Industry News, City of Cleveland, Cleveland City Council, Poverty, State of Ohio

Raise Up Cleveland announces start of statewide effort to raise minimum wage

(Plain Press, February 2017)        Members of Raise Up Cleveland came to the Cleveland City Council meeting on January 10th to announce they will take their campaign to raise the minimum wage statewide. The also came to voice their displeasure at the move by Cleveland City Council’s leadership and Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration to thwart their effort to place a local initiative on the Cleveland Ballot to raise the minimum wage. Their cry was “We will remember in November.”

The group had gathered enough signatures to place a gradual increase in the local minimum wage to $15 per hour on the May 2017 ballot. The proposal called for a $12 per hour minimum wage beginning in January of 2018 and a dollar per year increase thereafter until reaching $15 per hour. However, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and Mayor Frank Jackson lobbied the State Legislature to nix the effort. The State Legislature passed legislation that indicates that individual cities can’t raise their minimum wage, it can only be done statewide.

Several Council Representatives spoke up on behalf of the group and chastised the Council leadership for opposing efforts by the group to place the initiative on the local ballot.

Ward 2 Councilman Zack Reed complained that members of this Council went to Columbus to thwart the efforts to get the “poorest of the poor” a raise up from just over eight dollars per hour.

Ward 10 Councilman Jeff Johnson thought it was ironic that after fighting in court to maintain home rule to keep the state from messing with the local Fannie Lewis Law, that the Mayor and Council Leadership would oppose home rule when it comes to raising the minimum wage. He said now because of this statewide legislation lobbied for by Cleveland all the cities in the state are prevented from raising their minimum wage.

Johnson noted that Raise Up Cleveland had followed all the rules to get the signatures they needed to put the issue on the ballot, only to the thwarted by what he called a “slick backroom deal.” Johnson urged members of Raise up Cleveland to stick with their effort to raise the minimum wage, “You will win in the end,” he said.

At the end of the City Council meeting, members of Raise Up Cleveland exchanged contact information with another group there to protest the closing of public square to buses.  One member of Raise Up Cleveland spoke of her concern for safety at 6:30 a.m. on her way to work walking a greater distance to transfer from one bus to another at Public Square. Another man said, “I’ve been in Cleveland for 34 years and the City of Cleveland has always slighted the poorest of the poor.”

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