City council discusses living wage - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City council discusses living wage

Memphis City Hall is a big building.  Keeping it clean is a big job.  Amnesty Professional Services is just one of the companies that has a janitorial contract with the city.  It's a company which could soon be forced to pay its employees a "living wage."

"And that is at least 10 dollars an hour plus benefits," says Memphis City Council chairperson TaJuan Stout Mitchell.

The Memphis City Council has already voted to bulk up the salaries of its full-time employees.  Requiring the same of companies who have contracts with the city is next on the list.

"Most cities around the country have done something on this issue and it's time for Memphis to do something as well," says council members Carol Chumney.

Reverend Rebekah Jordan and others have carried the living wage banner.  They even wear T-shirts promoting it.

They say the council's consideration is a long time coming.

"The point is that we're tired of companies getting taxpayer dollars in Memphis, then turning around and paying employees poverty wages," says Jordan.

Council members say making sure small business are not penalized is a priority.  The same can't be said for larger companies.  Some of them have contracts worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.

"We expect for you to do better," says Mitchell.  "Cause you've had an opportunity to grow," she adds.

Growing hard-working families is what supporters say a living wage is all about.

The committee which met Tuesday will soon send a proposal to the full city council.  But the work is not done.

Companies that receive tax breaks from the city may soon be required to pay a living wage as well.

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