The minimum wage could increase to $15 per hour for about 270 Detroit municipal employees under a plan expected to be presented in the coming weeks to the City Council.
Pending approval by the Council, the workers' pay would go up starting July 1, Mayor Mike Duggan and Councilwoman Latisha Johnson told reporters Wednesday.
Detroit has about 9,000 municipal workers on its payroll. The bump up for the 270 employees currently making less than $15 per hour would cost the city about $1.3 million annually.
“This amount is a small price to pay for the many benefits that will accrue to our community,” said Johnson, who chairs the City Council's internal operations committee. "This is certainly a step in the right direction for Detroiters to obtain a living wage within these various positions, with growth opportunities that can help achieve greater financial stability.”
Duggan said some of those jobs are play leaders at city recreation centers, civilian traffic controllers and lifeguards.
“These are very valuable employees,” he added. “You think about the folks working at the rec centers, they are watching our children every day to make them safe. You look at those folks standing out in all weather moving traffic after sports events or coming out of rush hour, those folks are really important."
Private sector workers and their supporters have demonstrated in recent years in Detroit and other cities across the U.S. for a $15 minimum wage. The coronavirus pandemic has forced some employers to increase pay rates on their own to keep and attract workers.
Michigan's minimum wage rose by 22 cents to $9.87 an hour on Jan. 1. State law requires annual increases in the wage until it reaches $12.05 in a decade.
Last April, President Joe Biden signed an executive order increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour for federal contractors. Biden administration officials said then that the higher wages would lead to greater worker productivity, offsetting any additional costs to taxpayers.
Fast-food giant McDonald's said in May it would raise average hourly wages by 10% to $13 per hour, rising to $15 per hour by 2024. Entry-level workers now make at least $11 per hour.
At Detroit City Hall, changes have to be made in the city’s master pay schedule and collective bargaining agreements with city unions have to be amended to raise the pay scale.
Duggan’s office will propose that the $1.3 million for the raises be included in the city’s budget. Duggan said his finance team tells him “we are doing well enough financially that we can afford this.”