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Council Democrats Introduce Wage Bill for Louisville Metro

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An ordinance that would raise Louisville workers' minimum hourly wages to $10.10 over a three-year period will be filed with the Metro Council on Monday morning.The ordinance is being co-sponsored by Council Democrats Attica Scott, Barbara Shanklin, David James and Cheri Bryant Hamilton.Under the current proposal, employees would be given a staggered pay hike until 2017 starting with $8.10 next July. In the following years workers would see their wages go up to $9.15 and $10.10 respectively.City lawmakers have discussed a possible minimum wage bill at public hearings earlier this year, but moved to file this ordinance after the county attorney ruled council members have the authorityto establish a wage rate separate from the rest of the state.“Our state legislature tried to pass it this year and they failed to do so,” said Councilman David James, D-6, one of the co-sponsors. “We still have people here in Louisville who work hard and who are part of the working poor who are trying to raise families making a minimum wage. We need to make that wage a little bit higher so they can do so.”The ordinance was a rallying point for Democrats in May, when the 17-member majority caucus signed an op-ed supporting the idea.When the actual measure came up at an August caucus meeting, however, Democrats differed on key points.In an August e-mail exchange first reported by Insider Louisville, Council President Jim King, D-10, for instance, said the wage bill should exemptyounger workers.“Many entry-level jobs for untrained high school age children are used to teach them how to work and seldom deserve a wage above the federal minimum,” King said. “High school age children are not raising families and in many cases fortunate to get a job.”Others Democrats told WFPL they wanted to speak with business leaders before weighing while some worried about how a wage hike would affect small businesses in their districts, warning such a proposal could hurt younger job seekers.De ‘Quan Williams, 19, who earns about $8.50 at a local café, said teenagers are hoping council members do not take steps to cut them out of any proposed wage hike.“This is the very first time I have ever heard of an adult that doesn’t want teens to earn the money that they slaved over for, every parent wants their kids to have a good future,” he said.Williams said lawmakers like King—who is CEO of King Southern Bank—don’t understand that many teenagers from working-class families work to support themselves and often help their families in the process.“It’s not only saddening, but plain evil,” said Williams. “You have no idea what teens nowadays go through, you have a life with barely any struggles at all. Nothing is free and lowering the minimum wage is like trying to make us poor.”The ordinance being introduced provides an exemption for tipped workers who receive gratuity for services rendered in their occupation. Under the proposal those employees would be paid at a rate 45 percent of the minimum wage rate.James said other exemptions are likely to be debated once the bill is assigned to committee.The wage ordinance will receive it first reading at this week’s council meeting.