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Signature drive will continue, leader of minimum-wage initiative in Oklahoma City says

by William Crum Published: April 16, 2014

Advocates of raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma City will continue collecting initiative petition signatures, Tim O’Connor, president of the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation, said Wednesday.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed a bill banning cities from setting their own minimum wage. Her action appeared to kill the Oklahoma City petition drive.

Sponsors are looking into their options and will continue collecting signatures “until somebody tells us we can’t,” O’Connor said. “We’re just continuing on until we can figure out where we’re at.”

Advocates of raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma City to $10.10 per hour have until June 2 to collect 6,034 valid signatures from Oklahoma City voters.

O’Connor said Wednesday morning that he was confident sponsors would collect the required number of signatures by the deadline.

“If anything this has given us more momentum,” he said.

O’Connor has said the Oklahoma City initiative is modeled after one passed by a wide majority of voters in Albuquerque, N.M., in November 2012.

The Oklahoma City measure would:

• Raise the minimum wage in the city from the federal minimum of $7.25 to $10.10 per hour starting 90 days after approval by voters.

• Require that the minimum wage be adjusted annually to keep up with the rising cost of living.

• Require starting Jan. 1, 2016, that employees who depend in part on tips be paid at least 60 percent of minimum wage.

Advocates hoped passing a minimum-wage increase in Oklahoma City would prompt other cities to follow suit.

In signing Senate Bill 1023 preempting cities and counties from setting their own minimum wage, Fallin said she was protecting the economy “from bad public policy that would destroy Oklahoma jobs. Mandating a minimum wage increase at the local level would drive businesses to other communities and states, and would raise prices for consumers.”

SB 1023 took effect immediately upon the governor’s signature, said Michael McNutt, the governor’s press secretary.

by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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