State Senate OKs minimum wage uniformity, blocks Birmingham increase

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The Alabama State Legislature is pushing back against cities hoping to set their own minimum wage standards.

Thursday, the Alabama Senate voted in favor of HB174 — also known as the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage and Right to Work Act — a bill that would block cities from setting individual minimum wage rules. The Alabama House already approved the bill. The measure was approved by a 23-10 vote, mainly on party lines.

“Senate Republicans deserve credit for championing and affirming that free enterprise creates opportunity for all,” said Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills), a sponsor of the bill. “By passing the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage and Right to Work Act, we are protecting job creators from having to deal with dozens of different minimum wages and labor rules that would vary from city to city.”

The bill, which went directly to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature, prevents local governments from instituting a minimum wage and requires all cities and counties in Alabama to use the federal wage standards as a measure.

In addition, the legislation cements Alabama as a right-to-work state by giving the Legislature alone authority to establish uniform employment policies and regulations of collective bargaining.

“We want businesses to expand and create more jobs – not cut entry-level jobs because a patchwork of local minimum wages causes operating costs to rise. Our actions today will create predictability and consistency for Alabama’s economy, which benefits everyone,” Waggoner said.

The Senate’s action comes amid a battle between Birmingham and the Alabama Legislature over minimum wage standards.

Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to increase the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, effective the next day. In August, council originally had voted to begin the $10.10 minimum July 2017.

Bentley signed the bill less than an hour after the vote, effectively blocking the Magic City’s efforts.

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