City of Lincoln
2007 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler today announced his intention to veto the City Council decision last night to exempt nonprofit organizations from the City’s living wage ordinance.
"I will not divide our community by moving Lincoln forward for only a selected few," said Beutler. "The living wage is simple justice and fairness for our working poor. This value should be built into our economic system just as we have built scores of other values into our economic system over the decades. Government works best when it rewards work – not when it forces people onto the welfare rolls. The best anti-poverty program ever devised is a fair wage for a hard day’s work."
The City Council passed the living wage ordinance in March 2004. It requires companies with at least 10 employees who have City contracts worth $25,000 or more to pay full-time employees a minimum hourly salary, adjusted annually. It is currently $10.92 per hour or $9.93 per hour with health insurance benefits.
A study conducted by the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest in the summer of 2006 found that the living wage ordinance, "has not caused an increase in service payments or contract costs for the government."
Beutler said leaders of local nonprofit organizations opposed the exemption. "They are saying loud and clear: ‘It is wrong for us to lead the fight for self-sufficiency and then turn around and pay insufficient wages to our own workers,’" said Beutler. "I heard Pastor Tom Barber of the City Mission say this, and it moved me that an organization that struggles to raise every dime it can to help people would set a high standard. It moved me that St Monica’s, an organization dedicated to helping end alcohol and drug dependency among women, aspires to fair wages for its employees. It made me ask, ‘how can the City of Lincoln, in good conscience, aim for so much less?’"
Mayor Beutler said he plans to veto the Council action as soon as the proceedings of Monday’s meeting are delivered to his office. The City Clerk has 48 hours after adjournment to forward Council action to the Mayor, and the Mayor has seven days after that to return it to the City Clerk with his approval or veto.
"I believe strongly in economic development and in the opportunities that Antelope Valley, the new arena and new roads will create. I will fight for them because it is the right thing to do for our future," said Beutler. "I will be a Mayor that makes City Hall more business-friendly, but not a Mayor that makes it less family- friendly. I will seek out money for new growth, but I will not take money from struggling people who work hard, play by the rules, and contribute to our community."