Mayor Barrett calls to raise minimum wage to $15 for all city employees

NOW: Mayor Barrett calls to raise minimum wage to $15 for all city employees

MILWAUKE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is calling for a raise in the minimum wage for all city employees.

"We're doing this because I believe our employees should be paid a living wage," Mayor Barrett said.

Mayor Barrett is calling for the minimum wage for city workers to be increased to $15 an hour. He says it's about fairness and making sure the city stays competitive at a time when there is a labor shortage.

"We want to be competitive with other employers," Mayor Barrett said. "So is there some altruism involved? Yes. Is there some hard-headed practicality involved? Yes. And there's nothing wrong with that."

Makda Fessahaye, the director of employee relations for the city of Milwaukee, says the change would impact 405 current city employees, including library workers, police aides and school crossing guards.

"Sixty-six point seven percent of those are city of Milwaukee residents," Fessahaye said.

The lowest wage in the city right now is $8.19 an hour.

"This is in an effort to bring people to the city of Milwaukee city employees and hopefully stay with us as they progress in their careers," Fessahaye said.

The wage hike will cost the city $1.4 million. Mayor Barrett says will come out of the current budget and he will build the cost in to future budgets.

"We will make it a priority that these raises be sustained," Mayor Barrett said.

The Milwaukee Common Council could approve the measure as early as July 7. The raises would take effect in September.

Common Council President Cavalier Johnson says he does expect the measure to be approved by the full council.

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