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$15 minimum wage approved for New Orleans city employees; see measure details

City council.jpg
Ryan Nelsen
New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano speaks in front the City Council, on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.

After months of debate and bureaucratic tape, the New Orleans City Council approved a measure Thursday to raise the minimum wage pay for city workers to $15 an hour.

"We know the cost of living in our city is skyrocketing," said Councilmember Jared Brossett. "There is so much to do to create a more equitable city. This is a big first step."

The measure will go into effect on January 1, 2022. In a meeting in August, Chief Administration Officer Gilbert Montano said the move would raise the salaries of almost 1,000 city workers and cost the city between $6.5 million and $17.5 million, according to the Times-Picayune.

That cost will depend on how the city chooses to increase the pay of firefighters, who receive funding from the state level and through property taxes.

Councilmembers complimented the firefighters, who have been a mainstay at meetings that discuss raising the minimum wage of the workers in the city.

In July, the council also voted to gradually increase the pay of city contract workers, eventually hitting a minimum of $15 in 2023, according to the Times-Picayune. This angered groups like New Orleans Fire Fighters Association Local 632, who frequently spoke at meetings stating they routinely lose firefighters to other cities who pay more, and therefore demanded city employees be included in wage hike measures.

Brossett, a former state Representative, hoped the efforts of the city would eventually spread statewide.

"We will continue to make sure that Baton Rouge gets its act together and creates a minimum wage law because no family can live off of $7.25," said Brossett.

Louisiana does not have a minimum wage law in place, so it diverts to the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

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