Council committee debates "living wage" resolution

Memphis City Council members spent hours Tuesday debating a pay increase for some city workers, and whether it would cost Memphians money.  The "living wage" issue brought heated discussion to a council committee.  It would affect service companies that do business with the city, forcing them to pay workers a "living wage."

No one on the council committee debating the resolution disagreed that the wage would be nice for all workers, but council members Jack Sammons and Brent Taylor wondered what the ultimate cost would be.  They argued if a company was forced to pay workers a higher wage, that cost would be passed on to its customers.

Taylor said the "living wage" would mean less jobs as companies adjusted. "The ones going to be hurt the most is the man or woman who is not going to be able to get a job, because the employer is having to double his labor costs," he said.

Meanwhile, council member Tajuan Stout Mitchell said the cost would be worth it.  She pointed out the long lines of people outside the Memphis City Schools administration building hoping to snag one of the 60 hall monitor jobs that paid $12.00 an hour.

Council member E.C. Jones said he did not like the provision in the initial resolution that exempted companies doing less than $25,000 worth of business per year with the city.  Committee members removed that provision.

The "living wage" resolution is far from complete.  It will have three readings before the full city council, and committee members made it clear they expect the resolution to go through several changes.