Albuquerque Officials Still Refuse to Enforce Minimum Wage, Suggest Exploited Workers Bring Lawsuits

“You are asking minimum wage workers to bring litigation?” That was Israel Chavez’s question to the Albuquerque City Council after they said they could refer workers who aren’t receiving the current minimum wage to private attorneys.

Chavez and other Working America members attended the City Council meeting on Monday, August 5 asking councilmembers to enforce the minimum wage increase of $8.50 per hour and $3.83 for tipped workers that went into effect on January 1, 2013. Two thirds of Albuquerque voters voted in favor of this initiative.

Mr. Chairman, over the past six years I have witnessed and experienced business taking advantage of low-wage workers. We are waiting for you to enforce our mandate. By not enforcing the current minimum wage, democracy by definition is being subverted and favors business interest over voters.

Enforce this minimum wage on behalf those who need it the most. Include enforcement language just like Bernalillo County Commissioners have done. There are people right outside this building not being paid the current the minimum wage. It is right and it is what will help the people of Albuquerque.

The current response from the city attorney is to refer people to private attorneys. However, this is not a feasible option for many minimum wage earners.

“This is a public issue, not a private issue. They should not be forced to take on private attorneys,” said Chavez, who has been a server for six years in Albuquerque. City Councilor Rey Garduño agrees with Israel Chavez “I think it is the city’s job to enforce this.”

Working America members in Albuquerque will continue to hold the City Council accountable to enforcing the current minimum wage.

To become involved in the “Got Your Raise Yet?” campaign in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, contact Brenda Rodriguez at brrodriguez@workingamerica.org.

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