Atlanta ‘wage board’ pushes $15 an hour minimum

April 15, 2015 Stockbridge, GA: Latonya Allen and her daughter Lakisha Senior, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Allen, a home healthcare worker currently making more than minimum wage, is part of a growing effort pushing for an minimum wage increase to $15 per hour. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

April 15, 2015 Stockbridge, GA: Latonya Allen and her daughter Lakisha Senior, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Allen, a home healthcare worker currently making more than minimum wage, is part of a growing effort pushing for an minimum wage increase to $15 per hour. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Inspired by wage-hike victories in New York and Los Angeles, Atlanta officials Wednesday resurrected last year’s legislative push for a $15 minimum wage for tens of thousands of fast food, home health, child care and restaurant workers.

The prospects, though, remain dim in the conservative General Assembly.

Elected officials nonetheless convened a “wage board” at the capitol to hear testimony from more than a dozen low-wage workers struggling to survive on salaries that mostly begin at $7.25 an hour. They spoke of unpaid bills, lack of health insurance, the embarrassing need for food stamps and Christmas presents never bought.

“Fifteen dollars would allow me to purchase health insurance and pay my bills. I haven’t had a mammogram in five years. I’ve never had a Pap smear,” testified Latonya Allen, a home health worker in Stockbridge who makes $9.50 an hour. “It’s not right. It’s not fair. It’s in the wage board’s power to fix that (and) to see that we make a living wage.”

Atlanta’s wage board packs no regulatory weight. Georgia Sen. Vincent Fort and Rep. Dewey McClain, Democrats from Atlanta and Lawrenceville, respectively, vowed to carry legislation in the upcoming legislative session seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Fort also said he’d introduce legislation requiring low-wage employers to publicly list employees who receive public assistance, as well as require employers to pay a fee to defray Medicaid and food stamp costs.

He wouldn’t predict the bills’ chances of becoming law. Rep. McClain’s bill (HB 8) didn’t make it out of committee last year. Its prospects haven’t much improved in the the Republican-dominated legislature.

Conservatives say mandated wage increases hurt job creation and the economy. The General Assembly also prohibits municipalities from unilaterally raising the minimum wage.

Local organizers, backed by unions, say the $15 wage surge in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle boosts chances of a wage rise in Georgia.

Reader Comments 0

7 comments
PJ25
PJ25

The only problem with making $15/hr the minimum wage, is there's literally millions of people in this country who are not worth $15 an hour. 

1Robert
1Robert

How much does the wage board pay the employees of their businesses ?

Unaffiliated Voter
Unaffiliated Voter

OK, so how MANY JOBS will be LOST if such a minimum wage is mandated?    And, why not shoot higher and ax for, say $50 per hour if you gonna ax?   You don't get what ye don't ax for!   lol>>>

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

Maybe learn a skill set that pays more than minimum wage?  Or how about not having kids you can't afford?  Or buying stuff you can't afford?  Or quit getting in trouble with the law?  Or maybe not using drugs?


Nobody owes you a lifestyle of your choosing...not the employer, and certainly not the taxpayer.  The only one responsible for paying your way through life is you.

George Johnson
George Johnson

Go to planned parenthood for a mammogram. Victory?  People need to pay attention and read the news.  They're already talking about the problems that the wage hikes have caused in kalifornia.  Businesses leaving town, people getting laid off.  These are no "victories".

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Why not 25 dollars an hour? if you want to get people on a " Living wage " that's what it takes, besides paying 10 to 15 dollars for a Big Mac ain't so bad especially if you work for the DeKalb Government with a P card

chuckie99
chuckie99

Get an education and then you will have a chance at a better paying job.