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News | Oct 13, 2014

CONGRESSIONAL INACTION DOES NOT PREVENT STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE.

Congress does not seem too motivated to pass a minimum wage increase anytime soon.  This inaction defies public opinion.  According to a recent Gallup Poll, over 76% of Americans favor increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $9.00/hour.

But all is not lost.  When it comes to the minimum wage, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is not the only game in town.  That’s because many states – and even some cities – have their own minimum wage laws.  Nothing prevents state and local legislators from increasing the minimum wage under these laws.  Put differently – for all you lawyers out there – the FLSA’s minimum wage provisions do not “preempt” state and local laws.

A quick survey of the news reveals that several states are taking important steps to increase the minimum wage.  For example, in the first half of 2014, four states – Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, and Vermont – increased their minimum wage to over $10.00/hour.  The State of Washington, meanwhile, just increased its minimum wage to $9.47/hour.

Several cities have taken even more aggressive steps.  In June, for example, the Seattle City Council voted to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15.00, while the San Diego City Council recently voted to gradually increase its city’s minimum wage to $11.50/hour over the next few years.  And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio just signed an Executive Order that will establish a $13.13/hour minimum wage for an estimated 18,000 workers.  These are just a few examples of how local progressives are giving America’s workers a fighting chance.

Many of the Trial Lawyers who read this Newsletter “rub elbows” with state and local officials.  If you are such a creature of politics, here’s a question you might ask your friends:  “What are you doing to increase the minimum wage?”  This is especially true in Pennsylvania and its major cities — Philadelphia and Pittsburgh — where the minimum wage continues to stand at $7.25/hour.

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