Arizona’s voters sent a clear message to our legislature last November that a minimum wage of $8.05 per hour was unlivable and unacceptable in our state. We are making a slow climb to a $12 per hour minimum wage, thanks to voters, but even with this improvement, wages are not keeping up with cost of living in Tempe.
As of January 1st, 2017, the minimum wage in Arizona has been $10 per hour. In Tempe, we attempted to enact a paid sick-leave ordinance that better served workers in our city. Unfortunately, the state legislature felt that, on this issue, local control doesn’t matter to them. We have made progress, but our lowest paid workers still live with financial insecurity and the potential of financial ruin at a minute’s notice.
- A single parent of two children earning $10 per hour falls below the poverty line if they miss one day of work, unpaid, in a month.
- 3-5 days of unpaid missed work is equivalent to a month’s groceries for low-income families.
- Paid sick leave reduces job loss and strengthens local economies.
While I appreciate the hard-won change to our minimum wage and adoption of mandatory sick leave, there is still work to be done. As housing costs climb in Tempe, the increase in wages is being absorbed by rent. No parent should fall below the poverty line or be forced to go without basic necessities because they haven’t accrued enough sick time; they must be allowed to earn enough to afford caring for their family in an emergency. This demands a $15 minimum wage. To achieve this, citizens must pressure our legislators to repeal their law prohibiting cities from enacting their own wages and sick-time policies, and our city officials should consider legal action against the state for their over-reach and demonstrable harm to Tempe’s working class.