The city of Birmingham, Alabama has reportedly voted to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The City Council vote on Feb. 23 gave Birmingham one of the South’s highest minimum wages.
Birmingham was originally set to have a gradual minimum wage increase from $8.50 per hour in July to $10.10 in 2017, reports Alabama.com.
“We need to make sure our citizens are taken care of and that we’re making decisions in their best interest,” said Council President Jonathan Austin, who introduced the wage increase.
The bill reportedly must be signed by the Birmingham mayor and publicly posted before it can legally take effect.
The two council members who voted against the increase, Valerie Abbott and Kim Rafferty, said that the measure could negatively effect businesses in the area.
The wage increase comes as Alabama state lawmakers move to restrict cities’ ability to determine their own minimum wages, reports Raw Story. Alabama House Republicans passed legislation on Feb. 16 that bars cities from establishing minimum wages for private companies.
Rep. David Faulkner, who introduced the state bill, said that different minimum wages throughout the state would cause confusion and be problematic.
“I don’t know if cities are equipped to analyze and determine what the appropriate minimum wage is, and what those impacts are,” said Faulkner.
“The whole point of this bill is to keep us from having different minimum wages in cities across the state.”
Democrats hold that the bill is an uncalled-for intervention of the state government.
The move by Birmingham to set its own minimum wage is part of a larger trend of cities throughout the U.S, reports The New York Times.
“You have an explosion of local minimum wage laws, and that extends into more conservative states where you have more liberal metropolitan areas. In response to that, the states are taking action,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of U.C. Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.
Legislation to bar Birmingham and other cities from setting their own minimum wage could be decided in the Senate as early as Feb. 24.