Birmingham city officials just set one of the highest minimum wages in the South ahead of Republican efforts to stop them.
The City Council voted Tuesday morning to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, effective almost immediately, reported AL.com.
Officials passed an ordinance in August incrementally raising the city’s minimum wage to $8.50 in July 2016 and then to $10.10 a year later.
But they moved up the timetable after the Alabama House of Representatives passed a measure Feb. 16 proposed by state Rep. David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook) that would prevent cities and counties from setting a minimum wage for private employers.
Senate Republicans made the bill a priority, and they hoped to pass it as soon as Thursday.
The Birmingham City Council voted to move up the minimum wage increase to March 1, instead of July, and then voted 6-2 this week to put it into effect as soon as possible.
The change is dated for Thursday, but the ordinance must be signed by the mayor and published publicly before it goes into effect and can be enforced, the newspaper reported.
“We need to make sure our citizens are taken care of and that we’re making decisions in their best interest,” said Council President Johnathan Austin.
Faulkner said his bill is needed to prevent differing minimum wages around the state from creating problems, but Democratic opponents said the measure was an example of government overreach.
Alabama is one of five states – all in the South – that have not set their own minimum wage, so the federal minimum wage of $7.25 applies there.
Officials in 29 states and at least 31 cities have raised their minimum wage above the federal standard, and the Obama administration has vowed to support Birmingham and other cities that have set their own.
“Birmingham is really setting a path,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu. “Wherever there is a city or state that wants to take on this fight, we at the Department of Labor and the Obama administration are going to support it.”