County supervisor says board will push for living wage ordinance

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by Matt Doyle

Milwaukee -- Hundreds marched in downtown Milwaukee Monday.  Wages, immigration reform, and the right to unionize were the focal points.  During the celebration, some Milwaukee County supervisors stepped forward with an ordinance they think will help get some workers up to a living wage.

"We're going to move forward a living wage ordinance in Milwaukee County," Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen said.

This announcement brought cheers to the hundreds in attendance downtown.

"We want to make sure we're using public dollars responsibly and asking companies to invest back into their workers and to start off with higher wages."

Bowen hopes to work with companies that have service contracts with the county.

He acknowledges the board doesn't want to push companies too far, like demanding $15 an hour for workers.   But thinks the board can find common ground on wage standards.

"We want to make sure that our workers can invest back in their communities," Bowen said.  "Invest back in their families so they can have something for their children, they can provide food on their tables and have a home to live in."

Deirdre Dunlap supports two daughters on $5.25 an hour plus tips.  She works at Mitchell Airport pushing wheelchairs.

"What I make is so low," Dunlap said.  "I still have to receive food stamps and medical in order to provide for my family."

She says she doesn't want government help, but couldn't provide basic needs without it. 

"I'm just barely getting by."

She's looked for other jobs but had no luck so far.

"I have to keep this job because I have to keep a roof over my family's head. But if we get an increase then I can stay at my job and be able to provide. If not, I am looking for other options."

Bowen plans to introduce the ordinance this fall.

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