No Wage Wedge?
The mayor agrees with "75 percent" of what the St. Paul Living Wage Yes! Coalition is trying to accomplish, Susan Kimberly, Kelly's economic development director, told the City Council on Wednesday. Her comments blunt the notion that the topic would blow up in advance of the November election, driving moderates away from Kelly's camp.
The coalition, which includes a variety of grass-roots groups, labor unions and religious organizations, wants the city to adopt more stringent salary requirements for businesses that accept public handouts. The group is pushing for the council to pass an ordinance that would require subsidized firms to pay wages that would put a worker at 130 percent of the federal poverty line, or $12.09 per hour for someone in a family of four. A current city policy sets the salary minimum at 110 percent of the poverty line.
Kelly's opponent, former Council Member Chris Coleman, backs the coalition's drive, as does Green Party mayoral candidate Elizabeth Dickinson. Kelly remains concerned about the coalition's desire to put city contractors under the living-wage rules. The mayor also is pressing for broader input from business groups and others.
Quibbles aside, it looks like the living-wage issue may go out this fall not with a bang, but a whimper.