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Sarah R. Bratko, Esq.
Vice President of Advocacy and General Counsel
401-223-1120, ext. 115
As you know, Providence City Council is currently deliberating an increase to $15 per hour for hotel workers. RIHA is actively developing a strategy to fight this effort as if it is successful, the continued viability of Providence hotels is in question.
As the effort to increase the federal minimum wage encounters roadblocks, cities and states around the country are attempting to take matters into their own hands. 6 states and the District of Columbia have recently passed minimum wage increases and 36 states have minimum wage legislation being considered. 120 cities have also increased the minimum wage and numerous more are debating doing so, including San Diego, CA; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Albuquerque, NM; and Portland, ME.
Seattle is one city that is currently in the spotlight. Neighboring SeaTac, a city of 28,000 that hosts Seattle’s airport, recently raised its minimum wage for many employers to $15 per hour. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a plan last week to follow suit and gradually raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. This plan is currently pending before the city council. However, critics point out that such a move is risky for a single city, where businesses can easily relocate to the suburbs. Washington, DC coordinated with surrounding counties prior to passing its minimum wage increase for this reason, however Seattle is taking no such action.
In response to these efforts, some states are proactively working to protect industry. Oklahoma’s governor signed a bill last week barring cities from raising the minimum wage. Mississippi and Florida have similar bans by statute and a New York court ruling from 1961 accomplishes the same result. New York currently has legislation pending that would permit its cities to consider minimum wage legislation.