Milwaukee County Board Votes To Hold Advisory Referendum On Minimum Wage Increase

Referendum Would Ask Voters Whether They Would Support Raising Wage To $10.10 Per Hour

Above, the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where the county's Board of Supervisors meet. Photo: Dan Zelazo (CC-BY-NC-SA).

Milwaukee County supervisors voted on Thursday to hold a referendum in November on raising the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The Dane County Board of Supervisors will vote later in the evening on whether to hold a similar referendum itself.

If the Dane County Board approves the referendum on Thursday night, it will become the fourth county in the state to do so.

An organizer from Wisconsin Jobs Now, Peter Rickman, said his group has submitted petitions to place similar referendums on ballots in Neenah and Menasha, and hopes to have a dozen such referendums on county and city ballots before the election.

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Rickman said while the referendums are not binding, they can impact state lawmakers when the Legislature convenes again next year.

“That’s going to put the pressure on them that we need to ensure that when the Legislature and the governor take office in January, minimum wage is the first thing on their agenda,” said Rickman. “We can’t wait to address the crisis of income inequality and economic opportunity in the state any longer.”

Business leaders across the state oppose any increase in the minimum wage. They say it’s a minority of workers who depend on minimum wage jobs to support themselves, and raising it will force businesses to lay off workers at a time when creating jobs is a state priority. But organizers of the current petition drives dispute that prediction.

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