Minimum wage reform in Wisconsin

By Justine Spore

Advocate Aurora Health, which operates several clinics and health centers in the Milwaukee area, announced on December 3 that they will raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This change follows several companies with large employee bases in the state who have also increased the minimum wage.

In January 2018, JP Morgan Chase Bank and Wintrust Bank announced they were raising minimum wages to $15 to $18 an hour. According to the press release, wages would be higher in cities that had generally higher living expenses, although wages across the country would rise.

Amazon opened a large warehouse in Kenosha in October 2015, which employs about 2,000 people, plus additional seasonal workers. Three years later they announced that they were raising their minimum wage to $15 company-wide. This decision has come under criticism, including concerns from State Senator Lena Taylor in a statement on Taylor criticized how the companies stranded employees who had spent decades working up to their current wages that were now below $15 an hour, and what it meant for people that would still be struggling to make ends meet.

“In some cases, the increase to $15 an hour will be just enough to remove you from using public safety net programs, but not enough to actually make a difference in expendable income in your home,” Taylor said in a statement.

Other companies that have recently raised their minimum wage include Target and Aetna, a healthcare company.

The Fight for $15 campaign began six years ago and has recently become popular, pressuring a number of companies to raise the minimum wage. According to the campaign, an estimated 1.2 million people in Wisconsin — about 44 percent of the workforce —  make less than $15 an hour.



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