Birmingham City Council passes minimum wage increase

Published: Feb. 23, 2016 at 10:38 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2016 at 11:44 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Birmingham city council passed an ordinance Tuesday to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 effective Feb. 24.

It needs to be signed by the mayor and the ordinance need to be published before it would take effect .On Tuesday, Birmingham's city council voted to raise the minimum wage before the state legislature tries to stop them in their tracks.

Representative David Faulkner is sponsoring a bill he says will null and void the city's move.

That bill has passed the house and is sitting for a vote in the senate.

Faulkner said Tuesday's move by the city puts small businesses and non-profit organizations in a bind.

"It's political grandstanding that you know, people possibly could have employers that might cut jobs or cut their hours and that's playing with people's lives. The ARC of Jefferson County and other non-profits that do such a wonderful job and place disabled people and businesses and they come to us and other small business owners and they said please pass this legislation. Please help pass it because they know their workers are going to lose their jobs," said Faulkner.

Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin said he understands and has heard those same concerns.

"I believe that we can do something that will make sure that the impact would be minimal to our businesses," said Austin.

Attorney General Luther Strange issued the following statement concerning the enforceability of the city-wide minimum wage ordinance:

My office has been contacted by local businesses and officials concerned about the impact of the City of Birmingham's ordinance establishing a city-wide minimum wage of $10.10 per hour, which purports to be effective on Feb. 24. The ordinance could impose fines and penalties on local businesses who do not comply. Because this ordinance does not provide a reasonable time for employers to prepare to comply with the new minimum wage, it could greatly disrupt the Birmingham economy. I am issuing this statement to prevent that disruption and to assure Birmingham businesses that, despite the terms of the ordinance, they will have a reasonable time to prepare to comply. Under Alabama law, the ordinance cannot take effect immediately.The City of Birmingham cannot impose an unreasonable restriction on the conduct of business by mandating an immediate increase in the minimum wage without providing a reasonable period of time to comply. The Alabama Legislature is currently addressing this issue and I expect it will be resolved shortly without adversely affecting the citizens of Birmingham.

The vote on Tuesday was not a unanimous one.

Councilors Lashunda Scales, Marcus Lundy, William Parker, Johnathan Austin, Steven Hoyt and Sheila Tyson voted in favor of the ordinance.

Councilor Jay Roberson was absent.

Councilors Valerie Abbot and Kim Rafferty said they agree that minimum wage does need to be increased, but the way it was handled has them concerned. The two voted against the ordinance.

Rafferty said she didn't agree with the way the ordinance was being handled and called it a political game, seeing as it could be thrown out if Faulkner's bill becomes law.

Abbott said she feared the council may burn bridges with legislatures, putting other bills the city has in jeopardy if they need the legislatures' help.

The ordinance now has to be signed by Mayor Bell who expressed his support for a minimum wage increase in Tuesday's city council meeting. He has 10 days to do so.

Once it is signed, or 10 days have passed without a veto, it then has to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the city. After publication the ordinance will become effective.

Faulkner said he hopes to have the bill passed by the senate by the end of the week. If it passes, it would then head to Governor Robert Bentley's office for his signature.

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