BILL WOULD STRENGTHEN MIN.
Alaskan workers lag behind
rest of West Coast
February 12, 2009
A bill that would bring Alaska's minimum wage in line with the
rest of the West Coast and provide inflation proofing for Alaska's
minimum wage workers was read across the House floor Wednesday.
HB 125, sponsored by Rep. Pete Petersen (D-Anchorage) will provide
staggered minimum wage increases for the next three years, and
then employ an inflation-proof formula after that.
"Raising the minimum wage not only affords dignity and a
basic living wage for many workers, but it also raises all boats,"
Petersen said. "By raising the base by even this small amount
you'll see wage improvement at all levels of the workforce."
Alaska's current minimum wage is locked in at $7.15/hr. Oregon's
minimum wage is $8.40/hr, California's is $8.00/hr and Washington's
"Considering the high cost of living in our state, that
is simply not acceptable," Petersen said. "Alaskans
work just as hard as anyone else, and often in much tougher conditions.
Alaskan workers are surely worth as much as Oregon's, California's
Petersen's bill would raise Alaska's minimum wage to $7.85 in
2010, $8.60 in 2011 and $9.45 in 2012. After that an inflation-proofing
formula would take effect, accounting for the rising cost of
living. Five years ago Alaska's minimum wage was the highest,
but Gov. Frank Murkowski gutted it by removing the annual inflation
proofing provision; he also removed a requirement that Alaska's
minimum wage be $1/hr above the federal mandate.
"Those actions by Frank Murkowski led to a wide gap between
Alaska and other West Coast states," Petersen said. "They
also stagnated the minimum wage here, leaving Alaskan workers
far behind their peers. We can do better than that."
HB 125 has been assigned to the House Labor & Commerce and
Finance committees and is co-sponsored by Representative Gara
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