Ferndale sets $15 minimum wage for city employees

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 5, 2019

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FERNDALE — A recent resolution approved by the Ferndale City Council will establish a $15 per hour minimum wage for full-time and part-time employees of the city, except for seasonal workers.

The council approved the resolution at its Oct. 28 meeting, which means that both represented and nonrepresented employees of Ferndale will make at least $15 per hour for their work. Employees that are represented are members of a union.

City documents note that, for represented employees, Ferndale has been increasing minimum wage standards through collective bargaining negotiations over time. Because of those increases, the city expects that the financial impact of the resolution will be minimal.

For nonrepresented employees, the total increase to the city is expected to be around $32,000. The money will be included in a midyear budget adjustment.

“We took a look at the employees that this would affect, and they’re making anywhere between $10 and $15 per hour,” Human Resources Director Dan Jacey said. “We’ve been kind of increasing that wage over the last two years to get it higher anyway, and when we basically took the difference between what they were making and what they will be making … the actual annual impact to the city was $32,000.”

Jacey said the city expects to make up most of the $32,000 due to reduced costs in recruiting and increased employee retention.

“We believe that by offering a minimum wage of $15 an hour, we’re going to be able to attract more people to these jobs, which would make our recruiting costs less expensive, and we’ll be able to retain them longer because they’ll be making a wage they can live on,” he said.

At the council meeting, Mayor Dan Martin described the resolution as not a “magic pay bump” for everybody, but said that as leaders and as a policy statement, they believe in paying a living wage. Martin said that $15 per hour as a living wage is “loosely defined” and something that can be debated forever, but that’s where the city’s discussions landed.

“The implementation of this will occur during the budget cycle or during negotiations by contract with the individual unions,” he said. “We need to wait for the contracts to expire, because it governs how wages are set. And so this will happen in stages, but what this is today is just a policy direction to staff that says this is our approach. ... If you’re going to work for the city of Ferndale, you’re not going to work in poverty. You’re going to make at least this much. So it’s taking that lowest tier of employees and moving them to a minimum of $15 per hour.”

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