At the first reading of the county minimum wage ordinance approved by county task force, Polk County Supervisors voted in favor of including an amendment, described as “fair and reasonable” by Democrat Angela Connolly, that would cut the wage for tip workers from 60% of the minimum wage to 50%. The amendment passed 4 to 1, with Democrat Tom Hockensmith voting against.
This cut is in addition to another questionable section of the ordinance, establishing a lower tier wage for young workers of 85% of the minimum wage. Three teens, Michael Alato, Alexa Rodriguez, and Chloe Craig, were also present to speak out against the disparity. “You hold your meetings during school hours, so we had to miss school to be here today.” Alato explained. Tom Hockensmith stopped Craig as she left from the podium and asked her “Which would you rather have? $7.25 an hour or $9.25 an hour?” The attending citizen body erupted into cheers as Ms. Craig declared “$15 per hour!”
Several speakers presented their viewpoint on the ordinance. Those in favor of the ordinance as written and amended included owners and attorneys of various business organizations, who insisted that the lower wages were justified because of the safety restrictions put on youth, insistence that their tip workers were getting by just fine, and the flexibility to offer better pay for non-tip workers.
Supervisors then offered their comment, essentially scolding the attending public for not appreciating the work that they have done and didn’t have to. They also proceeded to congratulate each other, while admonishing the attending public that they were being ungrateful for their efforts. Democrat and fifth district Supervisor John Mauro said he felt “insulted” by the insinuation that they board is not doing enough. “If I could give you $20 an hour, I would!” He scolded. He also proceeded to define to the attending public how bad his family had it, “Remember Christmas? How about a new pair of white socks! We were tickled to death to get that!”
The first reading passed 4 – 1 with Republican and Third District Supervisor Steve Van Oort, who spent much of the meeting disengaged and absorbed in his iPad, being the only “No” vote.
The second of three readings will take place on Tuesday, October 4th at the Polk County Administrative building. If you would like to attend the meeting, please contact Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement