A new statewide campaign to change a 1997 law banning local governments from setting its own minimum wage is launching this morning at Baton Rouge City Hall.
Unleash Local, a coalition of more than 20 community, faith and labor organizations, is launching its campaign to amend a 1997 state law banning local governments from passing laws setting local standards for pay, family leave and other policies the coalition claims will help local governments recruit and retain workers.
The campaign launch—scheduled for 11 a.m.—will feature testimony from workers and employers as well as state Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith (D-Baton Rouge), East Baton Rouge Parish Councilwoman Erika Green, Rev. Reginald Pitcher and St. James Parish Councilman Clyde Cooper.
The coalition has state Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, and state Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, working on the legislation to amend the 1997 law, says Julien Burns, a spokesman for Unleash Local. Burns says despite over 70% of state residents supporting a raise in minimum wage, coalition organizers have watched multiple bills addressing wage increases die in committees.
“If (the state) doesn’t want to lead on this issue, the least (they) can do is get out the way,” Burns says, adding the group expects minimum wage to become an ongoing issue in the upcoming legislative session and fall elections.