In A Little Seen Move, County Commissioners Make Life Better for Thousands of New Mexicans

This week in Bernalillo County this first phase-in of the new minimum wage increase begins. Now 10,000 low wage workers and their families will be making $8.00 an hour instead of $7.50. Next year, it will increase again to $8.50.

Working America held a thank you event for Commissions Art De La Cruz, Debbie O’Malley and Maggie Hart Stebbins who took measures to ensure that the law was enforceable.

Our New Mexico State Director Chelsey Evans spoke:

“This is really just an incredible day for us to celebrate the fact that 10,000 workers an increase in their paychecks, an increase in what they can spend on food, an increase on what they can spend on just their family in general so overall it’s just a really great day. We also want to take the time to than elected officials who stood up for those 10,000 workers and for our entire community.”

These commissioners included stronger enforcement mechanisms in the law such as a criminal penalty and revocation of business licenses for employers who do not comply.

At this event Working America, OLE and ProgressNow New Mexico members delivered flowers with thank you cards to the commissioners and spoke on the importance of this increase. Brenda Rodriguez, our Member Coordinator in Albuquerque, spoke next about the human impact of the increase:

“This is making a huge impact in the lives of our members, who couldn’t be here today because they are at work.

Lorenzo Pino, who lives in Bernalillo County, is grateful to have county commissioners who stand with workers and make sure that enforcement language is added to the law.

Alma Alvares, who works at McDonalds just outside the city, can now say she will receive a raise just like the rest of Albuquerque. A raise that translates to a little extra cash in her pocket, but more importantly a peace of mind that if her employer decided not to pay her, there is enforcement language that will hold consequences for her employer.

This is not something all of our members can say for Albuquerque, where some folks are getting paid as little as $5 per hour.

We are very honored to have such amazing county commissioners taking a stand for all workers in Bernalillo County and this new minimum wage law is a definitely a step in the right direction for the rest of New Mexico.”

Commissioner Debbie O’Malley spoke on behalf of her colleagues and thanked progressive groups in New Mexico for their hard work.

“This is a very good day for the county and on behalf of commissioners Art de la Cruz and Commissioner Maggie Hart-Stebbins I am here to say thank you all for the work that you put into this initiative, the work from folks like yourself, volunteers and labor who are all here today on behalf of the working people in this region in this county. I wouldn’t have happened.

You know we’re getting the credit but really the credit goes to the community, first the city of course, the initiative and approving that with an overwhelming majority, then of course it came to the county commission.

It was our honor to do this again on behalf of working families, people who work every day preparing our food, sometimes not doing the most pleasant of jobs but this says more than anything that we value families in Bernalillo county. So we very much appreciate this. Thank you very much.”

Though Bernalillo County workers got their raise, Working America is still committed to ensuring that city council members in Albuquerque and Mayor Richard J. Berry carry out the will of their constituents and enforce the minimum wage increase using similar measures to these county commissioners.

The next phase of the minimum wage increase in Bernalillo County will take place on January 1, 2014 and workers will make $8.50 an hour.

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