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Prop 206 passage raises wages and eyebrows

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 7:27 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Proposition 206, which raises the minimum wage in Tucson to $15 an hour in 2025, passed easily by a nearly two to one margin on Nov. 2.

But the proposition does far more than raise the minimum wage.

It contains a host of worker protections, requires the city to establish a Department of Labor Standards and will allow aggrieved workers to file civil actions in City Court.

“We wanted to make sure employees had a common sense, easy access method in which they could seek compensation if they were not paid as the law required them to be paid,” said lawyer Billy Peard, who co-authored the proposition.

The city says it is working on plans to establish a new department to handle worker grievances. According to the Mayor’s office, they will make this a study session item to work out the details.

“This will be quite an administrative burden for the city,” said Ward 6 Council member Steve Kozacik. “The reality is the voters adopted it and we’re going to comply with it.”

What Kozachik is not sure of is how the city might handle the initiative’s provision allowing aggrieved workers the option of filing a civil suit in City Court.

“Sections two and three of the proposition allow for private, civil lawsuits in city court,” he said. “That’s not right, that’s not constitutional.”

Kozachik believes “it will be challenged” and it will fail he believes.

States determine the court’s jurisdiction and it can’t be changed through the initiative process.

Peard does not believe anything in the proposition is unconstitutional.

“It would give workers a couple different avenues in which they could pursue a grievance or complaint if they feel they’ve not been paid properly,” he said.

Peard also talks about a couple of other provisions, one which allows workers to be paid by check or cash, in part because many don’t have direct deposit or in some cases bank accounts.

“This particular provision is designed to help those who do not participate in the traditional banking system,” he said.

Some people may have impediments such as lack of photo ID or immigration issues.

The proposition also protects workers in larger companies from losing a days pay if they are scheduled for work, show up and are then told their services are not needed.

Under the proposition, they are entitled to three hours pay.

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