Gloves come off during wage hike talks
MONTROSE — The Raise the Wage Committee did not make it on the Lee County Supervisor’s agenda, but it was slated to be heard in the workshop on Tuesday. Committee member Mike Bennett was more than a little upset when he learned that the issue would only be heard in the workshop.
“I want to discuss it now because I am on that committee,” said Bennett. “Last year when you told us to bring a proposal to the Supervisors the Board would vote on it. I would like to know why that has changed. It has been told to me that there is member of the Board of Supervisors saying that you will not do anything until the state acts on the item,” Bennett said.
It was brought up at the past Raise the Wage Committee meeting that the Iowa House is currently looking at House Bill 92 prohibiting counties and municipalities from adopting a rate higher than the state’s minimum wage.
Speaking to Supervisor Chair Rick Larkin, Bennett said “Why aren’t you doing what you said you were going to do back in August of last year?”
Larkin said he wasn’t the chairman at that time.
“When you talked to us last year you told us this would be a study and you would have members of the community come in and give testimony so that we would have something to go on,” Larkin said. “All I saw when I went down to approve the agenda last week was an ordinance. No explanation. Nothing.”
Supervisor Ron Felder said he was chairman of the Board at the time the committee was formed and added that there was an agreement between the two entities that the committee would report to the Board.
“The committee never came back and the first thing we saw was a resolution for the Board to pass without discussion prior to approval,” Felder said. “The committee was formed to report back to the Board.”
Bennett disagreed with Fedler.
“No it wasn’t,” Bennett said. “You can say, that but we both know that was not the way it went down.”
Fedler said, “I know what I said and I know what I wanted. I wanted two members of the committee to report back to the Board. That is the way it was discussed at the meeting.”
Following the regular meeting the Board went into its work session. One of the items in the work session was the Raise the Wage Committee presentation. It was pointed out by Bennett that even if the minimum wage was increased to $8.20 per hour, it would still be too low in the event that a family crisis came about. He said it would be a start, however.
It was agreed by the Board that the issue would be placed on the agenda for next week’s meeting.