Ferndale Adopts $15 Minimum Wage for Full Time City Workers

Ferndale Adopts $15 Minimum Wage for Full Time City Workers

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 1, 2019)

Ferndale, MI- Ferndale City Council members voted Monday to adopt a living wage policy that requires a minimum wage of $15 for full time city employees.

The policy has no bearing on wage requirements for private businesses.  It also does not apply to part time or seasonal hires.

The implementation will occur in phases as future budgets are set and as union contracts expire.

“What this isn’t is a magic pay bump. We’re not passing out raises across the city, but what we’re saying as a policy statement is that as progressive leaders we believe in paying a living wage,” said Mayor Dan Martin. “This will happen in stages.”

The proposed policy change was introduced in the council packet stating “The City of Ferndale recognizes the need for our employees to make a wage that allows them to take care of themselves and their families. It is with this in mind that we have established a resolution that addresses the City’s compensation philosophy.

“The momentum for a higher minimum wage continues to move forward. City Council and leadership believe its employees are its most valuable asset in exercising the City’s mission/values and making progress toward realizing the ideals expressed through the City’s vision statement.  The City strives to attract and retain employees who are committed to public service, demonstrate initiative, and are accountable for individual and team performance. The City strives to maintain a competitive market-based compensation and benefits system that ensures internal and external equity and recognizes performance.”

The vote was unanimous to adopt the policy.

Councilperson Dennis Whitte discussed how the policy only impacts city workers, and that council would not have the power to impose a wage increase on businesses.  The hope expressed by several council members is that the idea will spread.

“Perhaps if enough cities start jumping in with our lead we can get this passed on not only a state level but also a national level, so I’m proud to support this initiative without any reservations whatsoever,” Whittie said.

As a middle school teacher, Councilperson Julia Music saw firsthand the impact of low wages.  “I work in a situation where a lot of people do not make $15 an hour as teaching assistants,” Music said  “They have some of the hardest jobs in our school district, and so seeing we can do it at a city level, hopefully we can bring that to school districts so the people who are working with children with the highest needs are able to make a living wage as well.”

Councilperson Greg Pawlica had a similar wish for local businesses.  “Hopefully this will set an example for businesses in the community – they’ll say if the city is paying a living wage of $15 an hour, then us businesses within the community should support that and make the same effort.”

In September the Oakland County Board of Commissioners adopted a living wage requirement of $15 an hour for County employees.  Mayor Martin acknowledged the County’s effort as he presented the policy for the vote.

Nationally, Congress has passed a $15 minimum wage bill, which has not yet been voted on by the Senate.  Jenny Beyer from Congressperson Sandy Levin’s office spoke at Monday’s meeting, telling Council “We’re really happy to see Ferndale leading on this issue, so thank you so much.”

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