Dubuque group petitions to raise minimum wage - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque group petitions to raise minimum wage

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A Dubuque group presented a petition of 190 signatures to the city council Monday, in support of raising the minimum wage. A Dubuque group presented a petition of 190 signatures to the city council Monday, in support of raising the minimum wage.

Many Iowans continue to push for raising the minimum wage, despite the issue's unsuccessful bid in this year's state legislative session, which wrapped up last week.

A group in Dubuque presented a petition of 190 signatures to the city council at Monday night's meeting.

The group is asking for the council to advocate for raising the minimum wage from Iowa's current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

Tom Johnson is a Catholic Worker with the Hope House in Dubuque. He has lead the charge of collecting signatures to present to the city council and Dubuque County board of supervisors.

"We know that the county and the city don't have the legal authority to do anything about the minimum wage," Johnson said Monday afternoon, ahead of the council meeting. "All they can do is talk to their state legislators about it."

That's exactly what Johnson wants, however.

"I would hope that they would pass a resolution, maybe supporting it and also make it a legislative priority," Johnson said. "They have people that go and talk to our legislators and lobby for various concerns that the city has. I would hope that this would be one of them."

Retired teacher and former county auditor Mike McFarland also helped gather signatures for the petition to support raising the minimum wage. He said he's not discouraged by the issue's failure to gain momentum in this year's legislative session.

"The question comes up of, 'Why (present the petition) now, when the session is over?' Well, the answer to that is very simply, to pass legislation is usually a multi-year process," McFarland said. "So I don't consider this too late. I consider this just barely soon enough because the ground work has to be laid."

He said he'd like to see the city and county advocate on the state level for a minimum wage hike.

Johnson said the Dubuque group advocating for a minimum wage raise doesn't have an official name, but he describes it as "citizens for economic justice," and their efforts extend beyond just elected officials.

"The bigger thing here, I think, is an appeal to the consciences of those who run businesses in our area," Johnson said. "There are moral implications to how much you pay your employees. They're not just cogs in the machine."

Both men said they expect to see the issue of minimum wage resurface in Iowa legislative sessions for years to come.

View the Dubuque group's petition HERE: http://publicagenda.cityofdubuque.org/AttachmentViewer.aspx?AttachmentID=10938&ItemID=3597

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