July 28 — The “Fight for $15” struggle in Polk County, Iowa, continues as a county task force resists workers’ growing demand for a living wage.
Workers calling for a $15-per-hour minimum wage met on July 14 with the Polk County minimum-wage task force. The task force settled on an increase from the current $7.25 to $8.75, starting Jan. 1, 2017, and increasing annually until it reaches $10.75 per hour in 2019. The Polk County Board of Supervisors will vote on this proposal at the next task force meeting on Aug.1, much to the chagrin of activists.
The statewide minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, a figure that can best be described as an “unlivable wage,” was last increased in 2008. The pay bump proposed will not be enough to make the wages of Iowa’s minimum-wage workers livable.
Iowa’s “Citizens for Community Improvement” organizer Bridget Fagan-Reidburn is quoted in an Iowa CCI release noting that the task force “focused on what they believe is politically possible, not at all about what people need to survive.
“It’s our job to keep pushing for a living wage of $15 per hour,” Fagan-Reidburn said, adding that “if you hadn’t been pushing up to this point, we know [the task force’s] proposal would’ve been much lower.”
According to “Iowa Policy Project” researcher Peter Fisher, “Nearly 114,000 Iowa families do not earn enough to provide for a basic standard of living without public supports, despite one or more full-time wage earners in the family.” (iowapolicyproject.org)
Fagan-Reidburn said the fight for a $15 minimum wage in Polk County is “far from over.”