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Cranley: "Living Wage" For City Workers Should Be Raised To $15 Per Hour

Howard Wilkinson

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said Tuesday morning he has a majority of city council willing to support his plan to substantially raise the city's minimum wage for full-time and part-time employees.

The mayor wants the current "living wage" for full time employees to jump from $12.58 an hour to $15 an hour; and the minimum wage for the city's part-time and seasonal employees to increase from $8.25 an hour to $10.10.

Cranley said it is his hope that other cities in Ohio, as well as private businesses, will follow suit.

"This is not a partisan issue; this is not a racial issue; this is an American issue,'' said Cranley, in a room full of union leaders, city employees, and community activists at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall on Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine.

The mayor believes he has a majority of the nine-member city council backing him. In fact, four of them stood by his side and spoke in favor of the mayor's plan, which also includes developers paying a prevailing wage to workers on city-funded projects and new safety standards for crane operators in the city.

Four council Democrats – Vice Mayor David Mann and council members Yvette Simpson, P.G. Sittenfeld, and Wendell Young – spoke in favor of Cranley's plan.

Cranley said he believes the fifth Democrat on council, Chris Seelbach, is also supportive, but could not be present because of he is traveling and had trouble getting a flight home.

"I'm confident council member Seelbach will be on board,'' Cranley said.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, a long-time advocate of raising the federal minimum wage, was on hand and praised Cranley and the council members who support him.

"It is past time that Washington followed Cincinnati's lead,'' Brown said.

The one thing Cranley did not deal with when he laid out his plan was the exact number of employees who would be impacted by the raises and how much it would cost the city.  

"This is going to cost our budget some money and it is going to make balancing the budget a little more difficult in July,'' Cranley said. "In the short term, it costs money and it would be foolish to deny that fact. But in the long term, it builds buying power that is good for all of us."

Cranley brought Sheila Nash to the event. She's a long-time employee of the Cincinnati Health Department. Nash, Cranley said, would see a $4,000 a year increase in pay, which she said would "make it so I can put food on the table."