Alabama’s governor and legislature Thursday blocked Birmingham’s attempts to raise the city’s minimum wage as they swiftly approved legislation to strip cities of their ability to set hourly pay requirements.
The Alabama senate passed the legislation on a 23-11 vote that largely broke along party lines. Governor Robert Bentley signed the bill into law about an hour later. The legislation voids a Birmingham city ordinance attempting to raise the city’s minimum wage to $10.10, the city’s legal department said Thursday afternoon.
Alabama has no state minimum wage and uses the federal minimum of $7.25. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since July 2009. An American working full time – 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year – at that wage would earn about $15,080 a year.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, 29 states have raised their minimum wage above the federal minimum wage. There are also 23 local governments that have increased their wages – including those in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco in California, Chicago in Illinois, Portland in Maine and Seattle in Washington. Only cities have made efforts to raise their minimum wage as high as $15 an hour.
The Obama administration has been supportive of efforts to raise the minimum wage at the local level, the US labor secretary Tom Perez told the Guardian in an interview last year. The administration also supports a proposal currently stuck in Congress that would raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.
“We believe that the federal floor should be $12 by 2020 [and that] would be just enough to get a family just above the poverty line. They are not going to be rich, but they will be just above the poverty line,” Perez said in 2015. “Some states and local governments are going beyond that and that’s just fine … Seattle is in a better position to know how much above that federal floor they should go. That’s been our position and continues to be our position.”
Birmingham is not the only city that has had to face off with the state government in order to raise its minimum wage. Back in 2014, Oklahoma passed a billpreventing cities and towns from raising their minimum wage. A similar law passed in Arizona in 2013, but it was overturned in court last June.
Read more: The Guardian