Pima County to discuss $15-per-hour minimum wage

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 7:08 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Board of Supervisors will discuss whether the county should adopt a $15 minimum wage for the unincorporated parts of the county on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

It’s now $12.15, which is the state minimum wage passed by voters in 2016. It topped out in 2020, although there will be relatively small cost of living each year.

The county has passed a $15 minimum for its workers but the one being discussed will be county wide. As an agenda item, it’s for discussion only.

It’s part of a nationwide movement towards a higher minimum wage. Some 23 companies, including Amazon, Google and Costco, have already raised their minimum wage.

For City of Tucson voters, the $15 minimum wage will appear on November ballot.

“The fact it, it helps the economy,” said C.J. Boyd, the campaign manager for the Tucson Fight for $15, which garnered enough signatures to put it on the ballot as a voter initiative. “When people who are just getting by, now all of a sudden get extra money, they spend that money.”

Although the Tucson Chamber of Commerce and the Pima County Small Business Commission have come out against the increase in wages arguing it will hurt small business.

“It’s never been true,” said Boyd. “It’s scare tactics.”

According to Boyd, nearly 90% of minimum wage workers are over the age of 20.

“It’s not a starting wage,” she said.

Rachel Cummings, 25, works for minimum wage even though she has a master’s degree in Public Health.

“I do love my job,” she said. “I would definitely stay if I was getting paid more.”

Boyd was able to gather more than twice the needed signatures to get it on the ballot in only 15 weeks, which gives him some optimism that it might pass. The 2016 ballot measure in AZ received 58% yes votes.

“We’ve always hoped that it would ripple beyond the city and to the rest of the county and to other cities in the state as well,” he said. “We’d love to see Phoenix and stateside in the next year or two.”

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