Santa Fe’s lowest wage earners will see a few more bucks in their paychecks next month if employers get up to speed with an adjustment to the minimum wage from $11.40 per hour to $11.80 per hour that goes into effect March 1. For a worker who puts in 40 hours per week, that amounts to $16 per week.
The city’s Living Wage Ordinance, first put into play in 2007, requires officials to adjust the wage upward with corresponding increases in a federal labor statistic. An announcement issued Thursday from City Hall explains that based on a 12-month total increase of 3.54 percent in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Western Region for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for 2018, Santa Fe workers are due the increase.
State lawmakers are at the same time weighing a bill that would hike the New Mexico minimum wage, which has not seen an increase in almost a decade.
HB 31, sponsored by Reps. Miguel Garcia, D-Bernalillo, and Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, would increase the wage floor from $7.50 to $10.00 beginning July 1, 2019, with subsequent increases that mount $12 an hour in 2021. After passing the two House committees despite pushback from tipped workers who want additional protections in the language, it’s on the calendar for the full House session today.
Two other bills, HB 46 and SB 437 also proposed to increase the minimum wage, but neither is getting traction so far.
The updates come at a time when advocates for wage-law enforcement celebrated a court victory in a case where workers alleged a restaurant had engaged in systemic violation of the state law on overtime. District Court Judge David K Thomson ordered the owners of Shohko Cafe to pay $58,148 in unpaid wages and interest to the three men.
Wilmer Gaytan, a member of the Shohko Café Workers Committee and member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido’s United Worker Center who worked as a cook at the restaurant issued a statement through the advocacy organization
“This process has not been easy for my family. For years, we have had to make some very tough decisions to make do without my hard-earned wages. But thanks to the judge’s decision, we can finally breathe a little easier,” the statement reads.
The owners of Shohko, Faduka Family, issued a statement over the weekend that includes the following:
"From the beginning, we've wanted to pay our employees the money that they rightfully earned. We tried to settle out of court several times, including in mediation. Interestingly, our third offer was significantly higher than the damages awarded by Judge Thomson, but it was rejected by the plaintiffs.
We really didn't want to go to court, but at least Judge Thomson determined on Shohko Café's behalf that there was 'no willful maliciousness' in the underpayment, thus denying our employees' demand for additional damages, as he found that 'no evil intent or motive was present.'"
All three men involved in the case still work at the restaurant, according to the statement.