Workers in Alabama's biggest city were days away from having their minimum wage lifted. And then state lawmakers swiftly crushed Birmingham's increase—and any other city's potential effort to do the same.
As local news ABC3340 reports,
Earlier this week, Birmingham City Council passed an ordinance speeding up the implementation of its $10.10 minimum wage. It was slated to go into effect Sunday, after being published in the newspaper.
The Alabama Senate had a bill to block it on the fast track. It had its first reading Tuesday, went to committee Wednesday and had its final reading and vote Thursday.
Less than an hour after the Senate passed the bill, Gov. Robert Bentley signed it into law.
It not only retroactively blocks the Birmingham increase; it also prevents any of the state's other cities from setting their own minimum wages.
"Alabama is a poor state. But I say we are poor by choice, because of bills like this that keep people poor," MSNBC reports State Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D) saying during the measure's over three-hour debate.
The Birmingham City Council issued a response on Thursday, calling the law "a severe blow to the working-class citizens of this state."
"This is a clear indication that the plight of the working class is of no relevance to the GOP," stated City Council President Johnathan Austin. "Never before in the history of Alabama’s post-segregation era has a bill so detrimental to the very people who most of us depend on daily... been fast-tracked in the State Legislature."
"When the same lawmakers who excitedly give millions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations making millions of dollars in profits off the backs of hardworking Alabamians do not require these same for-profit businesses to provide a decent living wage to their employees, it’s a disgrace and shameful," he continued.
"It is indeed a sad day in the State of Alabama."