Yesterday, working people in Bernalillo County won a hard-fought victory as county council members passed a minimum-wage increase by a vote of 3-2. The minimum wage will go up from $7.50 to $8.50 – an increase that will help approximately 10,000 people.
This victory was built on a similar one in Albuquerque last November, when a whopping 66 percent of voters passed a minimum wage increase in that city. As a result, over 40,000 workers got a raise at the beginning of this year.
Less than a month after Gov. Susana Martinez’ “Good Friday” veto of a statewide minimum wage increase (and her subsequent scrubbing her website of all mention of the bill), the people of Bernalillo county spoke loud and clear. Now, low-wage workers in the most populous county in New Mexico will get a modest increase in their wages – money that will be put back into the local economy, help reduce turnover, increase productivity and improve the health of small businesses and communities.
The implementation will take place in two phases: an $8.00 increase on July 1st and another increase to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2014.
There was, and remains, overwhelming support for a living wage in New Mexico and throughout the state. Both the New Mexico House and Senate passed the one-dollar increase before Gov. Martinez vetoed it, calling it a “gimmick.”
We will continue to work diligently to ensure the wage increases will be implemented.