Sante Ghetti

Cleveland Council rejects minimum wage hike, voters may still decide

Sante Ghetti |

Last week, Cleveland City Council voted overwhelmingly – by a vote of 16 to 1 – in opposition to the most aggressive minimum wage increase in the country.  Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine even released an opinion more than a month ago stating that municipalities cannot legally set their own minimum wage. 

However, Cleveland’s Charter could still provide the initiative’s supporters the opportunity to place the issue (or an amended version) on a future ballot to be decided by the voters.

The original proposal – imported to Cleveland by the multi-state union Service Employees International Union (SEIU) District 1199 WV/KY/OH – submitted petitions to Cleveland City Council to raise Cleveland’s minimum wage to $15 an hour beginning in January 2017.  If enacted, it would mandate an 85% increase as Ohio’s current minimum wage is $8.10.

Members of the Greater Cleveland Partnership vehemently oppose this effort and are urging Clevelanders to consider the unintended consequences of such a drastic and targeted increase to our minimum wage. 

Our members may not be philosophically opposed to a minimum wage discussion, but if the issue is to be addressed, it should be at the state level.  Increasing the minimum wage only in Cleveland, as this plan would do, would immediately make Cleveland less competitive.  Our minimum wage would be almost double what it would be in the remainder of Cuyahoga County and the rest of Ohio.  Cleveland would become an isolated economic island, adrift from the mainstream economy of Northeast Ohio as well as the rest of the state.

Want to learn more about why the Cleveland-only proposal would backfire on our city?

Read more in the piece Kevin Johnson (Co-owner, Visiting Angels) and Joe Roman (President & CEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership) recently submitted to The Plain Dealer.