Council members take issue with legislators over living wage

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 12:53am

Two at-large Metro Council members are pushing back at the state Legislature for pending legislation they say is inappropriate for Nashville and ought to be left to Council to decide.

Metro Council passed a memorializing resolution expressing its opposition to state legislation that would take away the ability for city and county legislative bodies to pass living wage laws.

The legislation was sponsored by at-large Councilwoman Megan Barry, who said the issue should be decided by Council and not the Legislature. The state legislation opposed by Council did not advance past subcommittee on Tuesday, effectively killing it for this session of the General Assembly.

Barry said she plans to file Metro legislation to address a living wage after the budget cycle is completed this summer. A study by a Vanderbilt University professor last year stated the living wage for a full-time worker in Nashville is $10.35.

The federal mandated living wage is $6.55, which the study stated is $8,000 below the poverty level for a family of four.

“At the very least, we at Metro should not be paying workers a wage that keeps them working in poverty,” Barry said, pointing out some Metro workers do not earn a living wage.

Barry isn’t the only Council member standing up to the state legislators.

With the Tennessee House of Representatives advancing a bill to allow permit holders to carry a handgun in public parks, at-large Councilman Jerry Maynard said he intends to file a resolution in opposition.

“We have not had a final piece of legislation that’s been passed by the state, so we don’t know whether we would need to re-affirm or clarify Metro’s laws regarding guns in the parks,” he said. “But I stand ready tomorrow to file… an ordinance to reaffirm Metro government’s stance that we will not have guns in our local parks.”

Maynard and Barry said Metro ought to handle issues without being pre-empted by the state. Maynard added that he thought the House had its priorities in the wrong place.

“I’m very disappointed with the state Legislature,” Maynard said. “With unemployment, health care costs soaring, 20 percent cuts in budgets, if you look at education, all those major issues, and this Legislature wants to deal with guns in parks and guns in bars. It baffles the mind that they’re up there with 19 bills dealing with guns. And I hope Nashvillians will stand with us to say this is ridiculous.”

Barry’s resolution opposing the state living wage legislation passed with a vote of 25-0 and nine abstentions.

Filed under: City News

10 Comments on this post:

By: tv8527 on 4/22/09 at 6:45

Oh waaa waaaa waaaa . If you artificially inflate wages you get inflation & even higher unemployment .The market decides what a person is worth based upon their skill sets.

By: kk33 on 4/22/09 at 6:49

Barry is doing a wonderful job pointing up the inequities. The legislature has no business trying to limit what cities do. I am glad to see Jerry Maynard addressing the guns in parks issue here as well.

Who do these people think they are?! A bunch of hicks come to town for three months and think they control EVERYTHING? They will get a surprise at the polls next year.

All our large cities in the state need a living wage provision. The fact that we do not have them speaks to the greed of our businessmen, politiicans, and all the poor republicans that are brainwashed to vote against their own sefl-interest.

More power to you, Megan and Jerry!

By: Kosh III on 4/22/09 at 6:57

"And I hope Nashvillians will stand with us to say this is ridiculous.”

This is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 6:59

When did local politicians decide to follow the Philadelphia road map for trashing your own local economy?

Cities are not supposed to involve themselves in the economy. They are supposed to be transparent providers of infrastructure and public safety. Nashville has begun the long trip down the trash chutes that the rust belt and California cities started down 7-80 years ago. Someone should tell Williamson, Rutherford, and Wilson counties to brace themselves for a bigger exodus.

Proponents of trash such as this should never turn around and complain about urban sprawl. Sprawl exists because of overreaching urban policy.

By: Dragon on 4/22/09 at 7:18

FTA - "The federal mandated living wage is $6.55, which the study stated is $8,000 below the poverty level for a family of four."

The author and editor are either showing their ignorance or bias. This is a false statement.

By: pandabear on 4/22/09 at 7:28

Hey Maynard:
Does your "no guns in the park" stance include criminals like
the Kurdish punks who shot at one of our deputies in the park
a couple years ago ?

What an idiot.

By: pandabear on 4/22/09 at 7:30

Do you really think they trashed English Only
so that they could pay higher wages ?

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 8:34

"It's the private sector that creates the wealth that feeds us all. Government is obviously an enormously important part of our lives and is indispensable in many ways, but government can only function as a result of prosperity produced by the private sector."

FedEx Chairman, founder, CEO Fred Smith in a conversation with Memphis City Council yesterday.

By: girliegirl on 4/22/09 at 12:01

So.... we cut teachers or we raise low-grade pay for Metro employees? Hmmmm.... baffling, isn't it? And why would someone be "stuck" with a min. wage job? Maybe because they couldn't get through the education system we have, sounds to me like we should put our emphasis on education so that min. wage jobs aren't where our students end up.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 3:05

this is a test of my friend Producer. This article is about a cause that the PR firm of McNeely Pigott & Fox was not hired to run a campaign for. It does fit into the mold of a left-leaning person which fits Producer's history of posting on this site and the Tennessean. This does go against the business wishes of the tourism industry which depends on a majority of its workforce making salaries under this "living wage" amount in order to profit. The tourism and convention industry is a big-time customer of McNeely, Pigott & Fox and the firm would frown upon their employees taking a stand opposite of one of their major taxpayer supported customers.

I am just curious to see if Producer even notices this comment is here.

Also: No city has ever reached prosperity or even seen improvements by enacting a living wage. All continue their slide into economic third-world status and/or have been able to drive the poor out of their newly yuppie neighborhoods.