Raise the Minimum Wage: Support our Democratic Polk County Supervisors
By Rick Smith
Our three Democratic Supervisors, Tom Hockensmith, Angela Connolly and John Mauro are courageously advocating to raise the minimum wage in Polk County. Their minimum wage task force has had two meetings and there is a growing consensus that their members can reach common ground for an increase. Hockensmith shared an informal survey with cities within Polk County that suggested these cities are open to an increase but there is an upper limit. He made it clear that the task force must get a buy-in from the cities within the County. He warned that if the increase is too steep the cities can and would opt-out. If the cities opt-out then a county wide increase would be meaningless. He emphasized it is essential to get as many cities to participate as possible in order to benefit the greatest number of Polk County workers.
Johnson County raised the minimum wage in 2013 and the major cities within the county agreed to participate. Johnson County gradually raised it in a three step increase with it reaching $10.10 in 2017.
There appears to be support from the business community in Polk County for an increase but the amount of the increase is the debatable issue. Representatives of the some of the restaurants in Polk County suggested $10.00 was a reasonable amount since most are already paying that wage. A Manager for the Quick Trip Chain was quoted in the Register that they could live with $10 minimum, since they starting paying that this year. The owner of 40 Jimmy Johns’ restaurant in the metro area plan to raise starting wages to $10.50 by the end of the year. There is a “Fight For $15” group that appears to believe anything less than $15.00 is unacceptable. They were very vocal in criticizing the Supervisors for attempting to find a wage that would be acceptable to the all the cities in the county.
Our Democratic Supervisors need our support and encouragement. They are attempting to negotiate an increase that will benefit the greatest number of Polk County residents. However, they must get a buy-in from all the stakeholders. The stakeholders include labor, business, city leaders and the public. They are getting opposition from both the right for increasing it too much and from the left for raising it too little. They need our support as they thread the needle for an increase that everyone can agree upon. Please attend the next meeting and voice your support for our Democratic Supervisors’ efforts.
The next minimum wage task force meeting is:
Thursday, July 14th
Polk County Administrative Building
111 Court Ave