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March 11, 2021 01:07 PM UTC

Unions Thank Hick and Bennet for Voting for $15 Minimum Wage

  • by: Erik Maulbetsch
(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

by Gabrielle Bye, Colorado Times Recorder

Freshman U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) is receiving praise from unions for his vote Friday to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

It wasn’t clear that the Democrat would vote for a hike to the federal wage, because unlike the rest of Colorado’s congressional delegation, he hadn’t cosponsored the Raise the Wage Act, a standalone bill that would raise the standard federal minimum wage, as well as the minimum wage for workers under 20 years of age, workers with disabilities, and tipped workers.

He’d also told the Wall Street Journal last month that he was worried about the repercussions a $15 minimum wage could have on small businesses.

However, last week his office told the Colorado Times Recorder that he does support a federal wage increase–and he walked the walk, voting in favor last Friday of an amendment to the COVID stimulus bill that would have increased the minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

The amendment failed to pass 42-58 in the longest known Senate vote, coming in at 11 hours and 50 minutes.

The minimum-wage amendment was introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who caucuses with Democrats.

The amendment was also called the Raise the Wage Act, and was identical to the standalone bill by the same name.

Progressives were hoping to pass the minimum wage hike as part of the American Rescue Plan Act because it might have stood a better chance of passing than a separate bill. But some moderate Democrats’ decisions to vote against it showed that Democrats presently have little hope of getting a majority on board with this particular legislation, let alone the majority of 60 that they need to pass it.

Colorado essential workers rallied outside Hickenlooper’s Denver office last week demanding he vote in favor of the wage increase.

Following the senator’s vote, those workers in partnership with the SEIU Local 105–a union representing essential workers–thanked Hickenlooper in a press release.

Hickenlooper ran a presidential campaign last year on his own idea of what a national wage increase should look like.

His idea was that the wage should be increased proportionally to the living expenses of the area, so “the most expensive quarter of the country would get a $15 minimum wage by 2021, and the least expensive would see that hike in 2024,” according to CPR–a much more expedited timeline than Sanders’ proposal.

A Hickenlooper spokesperson told the Colorado Times Recorder that Hickenlooper will continue to support and fight for a $15 minimum.

“Senator Hickenlooper supports raising the minimum wage to $15 and voted to allow this important issue to advance in the Senate,” the spokesperson said. “It’s unacceptable that the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in over a decade, and he is eager to work with his colleagues to change this unjust reality.”

It’s unclear whether Hickenlooper plans to introduce any legislation in the future similar to that in his presidential campaign, and if he still holds any reservations regarding the impact on small businesses.

Representatives of local Colorado unions are pleased with Hickenlooper’s support of better labor laws, and encouraged him to continue supporting essential workers during the pandemic.

Lauren Martens, executive director of SEIU Colorado State Council, expects to see more of Hickenlooper’s efforts in the future.

“We appreciate Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper listening to workers and voting to give over 550,000 Coloradans a raise to $15 an hour,” Martens told the Colorado Times Recorder. “Working people need our Senators to keep fighting for $15 until it passes, and not let archaic Senate processes get in the way.”

Hilary Glasgow, executive director of Colorado WINS, a union that represents state employees, says Colorado needs “bold, transformative solutions” in addition to the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We need bold, transformative solutions because Congress has more work to do for essential workers,” Glasgow told the Colorado Times Recorder. “


8 thoughts on “Unions Thank Hick and Bennet for Voting for $15 Minimum Wage

  1. OK, I admit it . . .

    . . . occasionally folks will be able to count on Hickenlooper choosing the right way (. . . helps when the outcome is irrelevant, and a foregone conclusion).

    Thank you, Senator Bennett!  (Maybe someday Alva will find your photo again, too?)

    1. Yup. I’ll be impressed with Hick’s progressive chops when he votes for or sponsors a minimum wage bill closer to the  midterm elections...or the next time it comes up on a close vote.


      graphic from JustEconomicsWNC Facebook page

      1. I am still waiting to see something from Hick that shows that he is no longer an enabler of the Petroleum Club Gang. I don"t know of any bills that have specifically targeted his old buddies, but I imagine something is coming. We will see.

        1. Hick did vote to confirm Michael S Regan as EPA administrator. Regan worked to develop NC’s Clean Energy Plan, which aims for carbon neutrality by 2050. Regan did endorse an Atlantic Coast pipeline, which I guess makes him a “moderate” environmentalist? I like Regan’s emphasis on environmental justice, as pollution impacts poor and minority folks more severely. 
          The EPA website has official climate change pages again. I don’t know how bad the damage to research has been from $rump’s reign. Biden issued  some E Os; policy has to be guided by science.

          If Hick had voted Nay on this cabinet position, he would have been the lone Democrat to do so. 

      2. 'votes for or sponsors'

        Hick should lead on this. As a former business owner, mayor and governor this should be his thing.

        In the past, I would expect Colorado River state governors to be way out front in water issues. But I do not trust Hick on water as much as others.




  2. I continue to hope for an integrated solution of a minimum wage, earned income tax credits, child tax credits, food, rent & utility subsidies, and whatever else needs to be brought to the table in order to make certain NO child is living in what we label "poverty," none are hungry or even "food insecure," and not one is in unsafe housing with uncertain water supplies. I'm intrigued by the research on Universal Basic Income as a more efficient way of eliminating poverty, but have a hard time imagining it passing anytime soon.

    The goals of $15/hour are fine — but it is only a means toward various end points we ought to reach.

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