New Mexico’s minimum wage is now $7.50 and the national minimum wage is $7.25.
There are now two proposals that will be considered by the New Mexico legislature increasing the minimum wage to $8.45 or to $15 an hour.
(For full story see January 9, 2017 Albuquerque Journal “Minimum wage debate’s focus: How much more? 2 proposals filed; one would hike pay to $15 an hour, the other to $8.45)
Whether the minimum wage is increased to $8.45 or $15 it will be a good step in the right direction to achieving a living wage for all New Mexico workers.
The New Mexico legislature should go even further and as part of increasing the minimum wage make a component of the legislation the payment of mandatory sick leave to workers.
A mandatory sick leave ordinance known as the Healthy Workforce Act will be on the October Albuquerque municipal ballot.
The Healthy Workforce Act will require business owners to pay one (1) hour of sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked.
Part time workers are normally not afforded paid sick leave and will likely be the biggest beneficiary of the ordinance.
Large employers would be required to offer seven sick days per year after working 40 hours a week for a full year.
Workers employed by smaller businesses would earn five sick days per year.
A coalition of some 30+ major business organizations has been formed to oppose Albuquerque’s mandatory sick leave initiative and in all likelihood it will also oppose any increase in the New Mexico’s minimum wage.
The coalition includes as members:
• Apartment Association of New Mexico
• Associated Builders and Contractors
• Associated General Contractors New Mexico
• Albuquerque Economic Forum
• Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce
• American Subcontractors Association of New Mexico
• Commercial Association of Realtors New Mexico
• Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors
• Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce
• Home Builders of Central New Mexico
• National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP)
• New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry
• New Mexico Restaurant Association
• New Mexico Utility Contractors Association.
If the New Mexico legislature added the mandatory sick leave to the minimum wage increase, the State law will preempt the city ordinance if it is passed and make it statewide.
What the business coalition should do is seek a compromise and support an increase in State the minimum wage and include a mandatory sick leave provision.
The question is if New Mexico business community is willing to take a sensible approach to increasing the minimum wage or if they are more interested in their bottom line profit margins and not the betterment of their workers.