Albuquerque hikes minimum wage throughout city

Albuquerque, NM became only the fourth city in the country to enact a citywide minimum wage law higher than the state or federal level, as the city council approved a $7.50 minimum wage. The federal and state minimum wage is $5.15 an hour.

“This is a great day for the 43,000 families in our city who will benefit from this increase and be closer to lifting themselves out of poverty,” says William Kyser of ACORN, the campaign’s lead organizer. “After all, a job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it.”

The Albuquerque Living Wage Campaign was led by New Mexico ACORN and local allies including AFSCME, Voices for Children, the New Mexico Conference of Churches and dozens of local small businesses that spoke out in favor of the increase.

The Albuquerque legislation, sponsored by City Council President Martin Heinrich, provides a minimum wage of $6.75 on January 1, 2007, $7.15 the following year, and $7.50 on January 1, 2009. Albuquerque joins only three other cities – San Francisco, Santa Fe, NM, and Washington, DC – that have enacted their own higher minimum wage (New Orleans voters enacted a similar measure in 2002, but it was overturned by the courts). These cities represent a new, broader strategy in the living wage movement, which, until recently, had promoted more limited wage laws that applied only to firms benefiting from city contracts or economic development grants.

“This important victory just adds to the momentum of our movement to raise the minimum wage all over the country,” says Maude Hurd, president of ACORN. “In the richest country in the world, no one should work full time and live in poverty. We will continue to organize on the state and local level until working people in this nation are afforded some dignity for their hard work. If Congress won’t act – we will.”

Although Americans overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage, the Bush Administration and Republican Congress have repeatedly blocked attempts to raise the current federal rate of $5.15 per hour. At $5.15 an hour, a minimum wage worker earns just under $11,000 a year. The minimum wage was last raised in 1997.