On March 20, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors voted to override the veto by the County Executive and pass a Living Wage Ordinance ensuring employees of county contractors will be paid $11.23 an hour. The ordinance will directly impact nearly 9,000 workers. The vote was the culmination of a year of organizing work by low-wage workers and progressive grassroots groups, including Citizen Action of Wisconsin, to overcome significant political opposition, ensuring that public dollars are used to advance the lives of public workers.
The Living Wage Campaign was spearheaded by Wisconsin Jobs Now and supported by a strong coalition of allies. Over the past year, campaign leaders identified champions on the County Board to lead the effort. For the undecided supervisors, the coalition and their volunteers made phone calls and knocked doors throughout the frigid winter. The response from the community was overwhelmingly in favor of the Living Wage Ordinance, as thousands contacted their supervisors in support of the ordinance.
The campaign also defeated an effort by conservative state legislators to intervene and ban all local living wage ordinances. The failed legislative effort provided the coalition an opportunity to educate elected officials in other communities around the state about what a Living Wage Ordinance can accomplish, thus preparing other local efforts in Wisconsin to pass living wage ordinances.