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Jennifer baumgardner and amy Richards
Dallas Living Wage Coalition holds â€¦
The Second Coming Of Patti â€¦
Pinochet's Trial and Tribulations
The Interactive Commercial, Coming Soon â€¦
Dr. Laura: Moral Dominatrix
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Dallas Living Wage Coalition
On March 7, approximately 75 members of the Dallas Living Wage Coalition gathered at 9:00 AM at Dallas City Hall in the council briefing room for a special meeting with the Municipal and Minority Affairs Committee. As the media looked on, members of the Coalition individually addressed the members of the CommitteeCity Council members Don Hill, John Loza, and Leo Chaneywith their demands for what they call a living wage ordinance in Dallas. Their points illustrated by colorful posters, the Coalition members asked the Committee to host a public hearing on the issue of a living wage ordinance and draft a city ordinance requiring all companies contracting or subcontracting with the City of Dallas for a profit of $10,000 or more, or getting a tax abatement of $50,000 or more, to pay all their employees $8 per hour with health insurance or $9 per hour without health insurance. Additionally, the Coalition wants the Committee to meet with members of the Coalition individually as they work on the ordinance, and to have a living wage ordinance proposal to present to the City Council for a vote by August 2000.
The living wage movement got its start in Baltimore in 1994. Members of the Dallas Living Wage Coalition say that following Baltimores lead over 40 cities across the U.S. have adopted a living wage ordinance. But there is no standard for what hourly wage is considered a living wage. In San Antonio, for example, their living wage ordinance requires firms to pay $9.27 per hour, excluding health benefits, to at least 70 percent of the firms employees in order to qualify for a tax abatement. But Hidalgo County, Texas has set a $7.50 per hour living wage in their ordinance. The federally-determined minimum wage for workers is currently $5.15 per hour.
The federal government, through the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that a family of four needs to be making at least $8 an hour to be able to meet basic expenses, said Kimberly Olsen, director of the Dallas office of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and a leader of the Dallas Living Wage Coalition. Therefore, we are demanding that the City of Dallas show leadership in making sure families earn at least this much. We feel its a basic human right that people should be able to earn enough money to live.
The Committee members listened intently and politely, and then at 10:30 AM, Council member John Loza said that regretfully he had to leave to attend to a family matter. But before he left, Loza spoke of having been at a meeting with the Austin Street Shelter for the Homeless earlier that morning. He said that the shelter is a perfect example of the fact that there are working poor in Dallas. Most of the people at the Austin Street Shelterhomeless peoplehave jobs, said Loza. They are the working poor, and they are why we need a living wage ordinance in Dallas. I hear all the time about how the economy is showing an upswing of prosperity, but not all of us are sharing in that prosperity.
Members of the Dallas Living Wage Coalition then asked the members if they would support the Coalitions demands. To the surprise of the Dallas Living Wage Coalition, every member of the Committee agreed to fully support all the Coalitions principles.
Committee member Don Hill moved that the Municipal and Minority Affairs Committee direct the Dallas City Attorneys Office to draft a living wage ordinance for them to present to the City Council as soon as possible. The motion carried unanimously.
I want to say that I applaud your leadership in bringing this matter to us, said Don Hill in reference to Leo Chaneys having called the special meeting to meet with the Coalition, after a bureacratic error prevented the Coalition from being able to address them last month. And I commend all of you in the Coalition for your leadership. Your presentation has been enlightening.
Leo Chaney echoed the sentiments of his colleague by saying that he found the Dallas Living Wage Coalitions briefing packet to be extremely helpful. I was particularly glad to see the responses to arguments against a living wage ordinance that you put in here, he said. We discussed some of these very same objections this morning before we met with you.
I was also very concerned about the job loss factor, said Chaney in reference to the commonly held view of many opponents of a living wage ordinance, who believe that such a law would force businesses to dissolve jobs because they cant afford to pay the living wage. But Ive done some of my own research on that and Ive determined that that is not a legitimate fear.
On the afternoon of March 8, 2000 Leo Chaney told me that the Dallas City Attorneys Office has done as directed at yesterdays meeting and has written three model living wage ordinance drafts for the review of the Municipal and Minority Affairs Committee. Chaney said that now the members of the Committee will meet individually with representatives of the Dallas Living Wage Coalition to help discern which of the three is the best ordinance for the City of Dallas, and therefore the best one to send to the City Council for a vote. Z
Cliff Pearson is the editor of the Dallas Peace Times and lives in Dallas, Texas.