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Milwaukee County supervisor proposes living wage ordinance

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s most populated county will consider a living wage ordinance this fall.

Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen announced the measure during a Labor Day rally Monday.

Private firms that are contracted by the county would have to pay their employees at least a standard wage based on federal poverty guidelines. Bowen said companies that take public tax money have an obligation to invest it back into the community.

Earlier this summer, the Milwaukee County Board endorsed a living wage requirement for a proposed hotel at the Innovation Campus in Wauwatosa. It would have required the hotel to provide sick pay, plus wages at least 125 percent of the poverty level.

County Executive Chris Abele vetoed it, saying the hotel project would not be competitive – and it would eventually be killed. Bowen said he remains undaunted in seeking a living wage mandate.

Janet Veum of the group Wisconsin Jobs Now says firms that get tax money should keep their workers off public assistance. Otherwise, she says taxpayers pay twice – once for the contractor, and once to support its workers on public aid.