Asking anyone to live off of $7.25 – just $14,500 a year – is absurd, let alone asking anyone to support a family on such an income. On March 8th, we gathered to call on local businesses to honor the Johnson County minimum wage of $10.10, irregardless of whatever happens because of bills such as House File 295, which would roll back important victories regarding the minimum wage and also prevent any passage of laws relating to worker’s rights, housing discrimination, and some environmental regulations, all issues which disproportionately affect some of our community’s most vulnerable – and valuable – members.
Writing for The Gazette, columnist Paul Street makes the argument about the importance of fighting to protect gains in minimum wage, by breaking down the cost of living in Iowa City to show what a living wage would truly look like in Eastern Iowa, and attacking the callous cruelty of state legislators in Des Moines who are currently trying to remove our local legislature’s ability to set a local minimum wage that meets the needs of our community.
“How coldly Dickensian is it, then, for the reigning Republicans in Des Moines to be moving ahead with a state bill (House File 295) that would nullify the recent county-level minimum wage increases and pre-empt local and county jurisdictions from passing any such measures again in the future? HF295 recently passed in the Iowa House.
HF295 sponsor Rep. John Landon (R-Ankeny) says that his measure seeks to create “a level playing field” in all Iowa communities. “This comes,” he told the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “because of the patchwork effect that it creates on trying to operate businesses that are multicounty, that are multistate. It makes it difficult to keep track of each and every initiative that is passed that would impact that business as far as wages or other conditions.”
Does Landon really think Iowa employers are incapable of adjusting compensation to city- and country-level ordinances among other factors that create different labor markets across locales? Does it not matter to him that it costs considerably more to live in Iowa City and Des Moines than in Red Oak or Fort Dodge? Does he really want to begrudge a full-time American worker the right to make at least $20,000 a year, giving employers the right to push that annual income back as far as $14,500? How about passing a uniform state increase in the minimum wage?”