Can city set minimum wage for private employers?

Ohio AG says cities don't have authority
Posted at 5:21 PM, Jul 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-02 15:36:43-04

CINCINNATI – A legal opinion by the state attorney general must not stop efforts to raise the minimum wage for people working inside the city limits, council member PG Sittenfeld said Friday.

Sittenfeld vowed to keep working for higher wages even if the city can't legally set its own minimum wage, as Mike DeWine says.

"If you work hard, you should not be left living in poverty," Sittenfeld said.

Sittenfeld is one of a majority of members who backed the mayor's proposal to increase the minimum wage for city workers and contractors. The city is raising its own minimum wage to $15 an hour for full-time workers and about $10 for part-time. The state minimum is $8.10.

DeWine said, in a 20-page opinion, local governments cannot set a minimum wage for private employers inside their boundaries. But that may not be the last word on the issue: A court order or an act of the General Assembly could supersede it.

READ DeWine's opinionhere or below.

Sittenfeld said he supports raising the minimum wage for all workers across the U.S.

"I'm going to keep advocating for it on a state and national level, too," Sittenfeld said.

There are two things that can be done at the local level to raise wages for workers at the lowest end of the pay scale, Sittenfeld said.

"In terms of people who actually work for local city government, we have been able to take steps to raise our living wage, and I'm really proud to have supported that," he said.

"The other thing we can do is encourage private employers to say, 'Will you voluntarily move forward and make sure you're paying some people an amount they can actually live off of?'"

The CincinnatiUSA Regional Chamber had opposed the city's plan to increase the minimum wage, contending that it would be bad for development. I tried to reach out again to them Friday but they did not comment.