The right-wing's stealth assault on workers' wages rages on in America at the state and local level. But every so often, we get a big victory. Today is one of those days, as the New Mexico Court of Appeals rejected Big Money's efforts to gut Santa Fe's living wage ordinance. The ruling has major national implications. As attorney Paul Sonn, who defended the living wage ordinance, said "It’s one of the first appeals court rulings that addresses a local wage ordinance. It’s a sweeping confirmation that cities have the power to raise wages to protect local workers. It’s a real important ruling. It will be looked to across the country."
Remember, though, the fight to raise workers' wages always faces incredibly steep odds. New Mexico is one of the poorest states in the nation, and yet, even there corporate interests are willing to openly fight tooth and nail to stop any wage increases, whether it means going to court as with the Santa Fe example, or spending gobs of cash to defeat minimum wage ballot initiatives.
You may recall, corporate interests narrowly defeated Albuquerque city councilman Martin Heinrich's (D) effort to raise the minimum wage in his city a few months ago. National right-wing outfits like the so-called "Employment Policies Institute" (which is funded by corporate interests) got heavily involved, spreading all sorts of lies and half-truths in an effort to hide the clearly positive effects of living/minimum wage laws have on local economies.
Much of the war being waged in the states to keep wages down is being guided by national organizations like the Employment Policies Institute, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Just look at ALEC's model bills - they are openly pushing a series of "Wage Repeal Acts." These bills essentially use state legislatures to invalidate or prohibit county or municipal governments' already-passed minimum/living wage laws. And they are quite successful. Just look at how the Georgia's right-wing governor actually preempted Atlanta officials' efforts to raise wages in their city.
This is the kind of thing the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) is going to fight. It is why PLAN is being created - to support those state legislators who are going to fight these corrupt, bought-off public policies that are bleeding working people dry. With the money-drenched politicians in Washington, D.C. still refusing to support a federal minimum wage increase, it is time to take our battle to the states. Today's court ruling - along with the courageous efforts of some other states - should give us hope that at the state and local level we can prevail.
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