Bill would create $15 minimum wage for city workers

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Providence City Hall_612936

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – In the latest push to raise the minimum wage, a group of Providence lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require city employees to be paid at least $15 an hour.

The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, Moira Walsh, Anastasia Williams, Chris Blazejewski and Edith Ajello, adds a provision to the state’s minimum wage law that would require the city to start paying its employees $15 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

The state’s current minimum wage is $10.50.

“It is my firm belief that no one should work full-time or up to 80 hours per week and still live in poverty,” Ranglin-Vassell said in a prepared statement. “Working families in the city should, at the minimum, earn a livable wage to support their families and pay their bills. I think Providence is positioned to lead the state in ensuring that we support children and families with a decent wage, and I would urge the mayor to support this piece of legislation.”

Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza, said the administration is reviewing the proposal. She noted the city would need to understand the fiscal impact of a $15 minimum wage because it woud be in place mid-way through the next budget.

A full-time employee making $15 an hour and working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks would earn $31,200 for the year. City payroll records show more than 1,100 employees earned less than $31,200 in 2018, although not all of them worked full-time. It’s unclear if the new minimum wage would apply to the City Council or appointees to boards.

Activists in Providence tried to convince the City Council pass a citywide $15 minimum wage in 2014, but the General Assembly intervened, passing legislation that bans municipalities from setting their minimum wage.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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