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Minimum Wage Increase On Albuquerque Ballot

IMAGE: Beth Blakemanís sample ballot. Reproduction permitted courtesy of Bernalillo County Clerk My Voter Information Page.
IMAGE: Beth Blakemanís sample ballot. Reproduction permitted courtesy of Bernalillo County Clerk My Voter Information Page.
October 15, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Members of OLÉ (Organizers in the Land of Enchantment) are seeing the fruits of their labors on Albuquerque's election ballots under Proposition 2. After collecting signatures all summer, Duke City voters now have the chance to decide for themselves whether they support a minimum-wage increase.

Lucia Fraire is a community organizer with OLÉ. She says moving the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour will be a help.

"Eight-fifty is not a livable wage. But as long as we raise it and keep raising it, people should eventually be okay."

In addition to the hourly wage increase, there would be new rules for tipped employees and a Cost of Living Adjustment. The plan has been criticized by the New Mexico Restaurant Association and the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

Minimum-wage increase advocates are reminding people to study the entire ballot when they vote and be sure to look for Proposition 2. Early voting in New Mexico is set from Oct. 20 to Nov. 3. There is already one early-voting location open in Albuquerque, at 620 Lomas Blvd. NW.

David Edwards, president of the New Mexico Tea Company, says the minimum wage is a stopgap to keep employers from taking advantage of employees. He considers that an increase in the minimum wage is good for everyone, employees and employers alike.

"If you're not paying your people enough to live, then they need a second or a third job. They're not going to be as invested in my business as I am."

Edwards says many small local businesses he knows of already pay more than the minimum wage to their employees. But some large corporations do not.

"Often, what happens is the bigger, out-of-state companies come in and aren't really invested in the community, and therefore they pay the least amount possible. The money that that company makes leaves the state, and very little of it comes back into the local economy."

If Proposition 2 passes, the minimum wage in Albuquerque would increase on Jan. 1, 2013.

Renee Blake, Public News Service - NM