N.O. employees, contract workers eyeing wage increase

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Work funded by New Orleans taxpayers could get more expensive if a bill to implement a "living wage" is passed next month.

"This is a great opportunity to address income inequality throughout the City in New Orleans," Orleans District D Councilman Jared Brossett said.

His proposal would increase pay for city employees and workers contracted by the city from $7.25 and hour to $10.55 an hour, and his plan has support.

"I'm standing with this ordinance. I'm standing by my colleague and we will move this forward," Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said.

"It will provide circumstances where lives could be changed, and so I commend my colleague for bringing this to the forefront," Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey said.

The three heard from supporters of the bill Tuesday night at a discussion in council chambers. But there are still questions surrounding the how city officials plan to pay for the work if contractors pass the buck to them.

"I'm still in discussion with the administration about that," Brossett said.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants a similar bill for his Great Place to Work initiative.

"Mayor Landrieu supports a better quality of life for all New Orleans residents, which is why he has led by example in implementing paid parental leave and increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for city employees," Landrieu's office said in a statement.

The mayor's office released a report saying contract work could cost the city $60 million if Brossett's bill is passed. Brossett admits costs will likely increase if either bill moves forward, but he's not sure how much.

"That figure I don't have in mind. But like I said, we are going to continue to discuss those issues with the administration and look forward to final passage," Brossett said.

The council will vote on the living wage proposal at the Aug. 6 meeting.

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