After an intense grassroots campaign by members of Working New Mexico and the Santa Fe Living Wage Network, Santa Fe County Commissioners voted on Feb. 25th to expand the City of Santa Fe’s living wage, including the wage for tipped workers, to Santa Fe County. The move establishes a regional wage for the entire county and will benefit thousands of working families. The City of Santa Fe has one of the nation’s highest minimum wages.
The minimum wage in Santa Fe County has been $7.50 per hour. The ordinance raises it to $10.66 – matching the City of Santa Fe. “I’m 17 years old and I’m a worker,” said Working New Mexico member Nadia Sandoval. “I have seven siblings and a single mother. I help support my family, and the minimum wage is not enough to survive.” The expansion will allow thousands like Sandoval to support their families.
For six months, Working America members have been mobilizing in support of the issue and showing up in large numbers at public hearings to support an ordinance establishing a living wage in the unincorporated areas of Santa Fe County.
“No one deserves to live below the poverty line,” said Willie Martin, a member of Reel Working America, a joint program of Working New Mexico and IATSE 480. Reel Working America includes film and technical workers from New Mexico’s growing entertainment industry who don’t have a union on the job. Martin helped collect hundreds of the more than 6,000 petition signatures in support of the ordinance.
The measure to boost wages, which takes effect in 60 days, was passed by a unanimous vote. County Commissioners Miguel Chavez and Liz Stefanics co-sponsored the measure; Commissioners Danny Mayfield, Kathy Holian and Robert Anaya all voted in favor.
Working New Mexico members also are currently working to guarantee enforcement of Albuquerque’s minimum wage law, which was passed in 2012 with 66 percent of the vote. An effort to pass a constitutional amendment to raise the wage statewide in New Mexico did not succeed this year, despite the support of a majority of state legislators.
“We’ll be back,” said Pam Resendiz, member coordinator for Working New Mexico. “Workers all over the state need a raise. We’re not waiting for the legislature to act; we’re going to keep working with cities and counties so working people can earn a decent wage and support their families.”