Mayor Hancock Considering $15/Hour Minimum Wage for City Employees

Mayor Michael B. Hancock said he is exploring a minimum wage of $15 an hour for city employees and those who work for businesses that operate in city facilities.

“While unemployment is low and Denver’s economy is among the strongest in the country, wage growth has not kept pace with a rising cost of living,” Mayor Hancock said. “Lower- and middle-income workers are struggling to get by. I’ve been meeting with many employees and listened to stories and experiences. I believe we have an opportunity here to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”
The Mayor has directed the Department of Finance to explore increasing starting pay for city, contractor, vendor and tenant employees to $15 an hour, phased in over several years. Mayor Hancock said the review process will include outreach to community stakeholders, private-sector partners and employees. Findings and recommendations will be presented to the Mayor in early 2019.

Cities like Denver have borne the brunt of the country’s growing income inequality challenges due to the lack of federal leadership and Congressional inaction to address it. Mayor Hancock has long advocated for improving wages and benefits for workers. He supported the two most recent successful ballot measures to increase the state’s minimum wage in 2006 and 2016. And over the past several years, he has taken significant steps to address affordability, equity and access to opportunity for Denver residents. In 2016, Mayor Hancock and City Council helped create Denver’s first dedicated affordable housing fund. This year, Mayor Hancock doubled the fund, expanded the city’s property-tax rebate program to cover more families, and unveiled an Equity Platform aimed at increasing opportunity and creating a more inclusive economy.

“I’m committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from the unprecedented prosperity our city is enjoying today so that no one gets left behind,” Mayor Hancock said.

SEIU Celebrates Hancock Announcement to Explore Minimum Wage Increase

SEIU Local 105 Members have Pushed for Fair Worker Wages at the Airport and Throughout Denver
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is celebrating Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s announcement that he is strongly considering increasing the minimum wage for all city and county of Denver employees including airport workers and contractor, vendor and tenant employees.

“This announcement is exciting and well-deserved news for Denver workers at the airport and throughout the city,” said SEIU President Ron Ruggiero. “Many of these workers have high levels of responsibility and are critical for the safe and efficient operation of the airport and our city. All workers deserve to make a living wage and this announcement is uplifting news. We hope the Mayor’s office moves forward with this initiative as soon as possible.”

SEIU workers have led the push for fair wages for all by being instrumental in passing Amendment 70 and by continuing the campaign to fight for $15. For two years, they have also been working with Denver International Airport (DEN) workers, advocating for fair wages, job security, proper emergency preparedness training and the right to organize. In October, SEIU hosted the Global Airport Worker’s Day of Action with dozens of airports across the world to bring attention to the workers that serve and protect passengers every day.

“I have had to work multiple jobs, including my job at the airport just to make a living,” said Andrew Tobin, DEN airport worker. “This announcement gives myself and workers throughout the city hope that we can expect a fair wage and that our work is valued in the city that we are so proud to work for.”  

This announcement comes on the heels of SEIU’s meeting last month with Mayor Hancock and DEN airport workers. Airport workers at the meeting called attention to the constant struggle they and their colleagues face in order to pay rent, provide for their families, and make ends meetincity with rapidly increasing costs of living.

It also closely follows the 2018 mid-term election which resulted in an overwhelming victory for progressive candidates across the state. In this election cycle, SEIU members invested thousands of volunteer hours to contact hundreds of thousands of new and existing voters. In addition to thousands of volunteer hours, SEIU members invested approximately $4 million in get-out-the-vote and communications efforts. Many of these candidates have committed to standing up for working families and support the Working People’s Platform. This platform consists of seven tenets that lift up the goals and recognize the struggles of working people, including higher wages, racial justice, immigrant justice, access to affordable healthcare and housing, a clean environment and the right to form a union.