Efforts to boost the minimum wage are underway in local, state and federal governments. Members of Working America, an affiliate of the labor group the AFL-CIO, are behind a push to match Santa Fe County’s minimum wage to that of the city, currently at $10.50 an hour. Members of the group were set to testify during the County Commission’s Jan. 28 meeting in support of a measure sponsored by Commissioners Liz Stefanics and Miguel Chavez to make the county’s minimum wage work the way the city’s does, increasing annually if there are corresponding increases to a federal consumer price index .

The proposed ordinance would mandate that employers in the county pay the minimum wage to full-time, part-time and temporary employees. The proposal would exempt nonprofits paying individuals who aren't employees; apprenticeship programs; certified youth camps paying room and board for temporary employees; relatives who hire their immediate family members; employers who hire interns in exchange for course credits; and businesses that hire people for court-ordered service programs.

Employees who regularly earn more than $30 in monthly tips "shall be paid at least a base wage" of $5.25, according to the proposal, and the employer may consider tips and commissions as a part of wages, but the tips and commissions combined with the employer's cash wage "shall not equal less than the living wage." In the event an employee earns insufficient tips to earn the living wage, "the employer shall make up the difference to ensure the employee receives a cash wage equal to the living wage," reads the proposal. As of press time, county commissioners planned to hold a second hearing on the measure on Feb. 11, during which there could be a final vote to approve the idea.

On the state level, Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature have introduced a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to increase the minimum wage statewide. Federally, President Obama is set to sign an executive order that would require that janitors, construction workers and certain others who work for federal contractors be paid $10.10 an hour, according to news reports.

(Justin Horwath)