Taylor helps pass wage hike, wage theft crackdown; Help for working families

Written by Theresa Rose on February 25, 2015

(Des Moines) On Tuesday, February 24, State Senator Rich Taylor of Mount Pleasant and the Iowa Senate passed two measures that will help Iowa’s working families. One would raise Iowa’s minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. The other would strengthen Iowa laws against wage theft, which costs Iowa workers $600 million a year.

Senate File 269 would increase Iowa’s minimum wage, which has been set at $7.25 an hour for the last seven years. It was approved on a bipartisan vote of 27 to 22. If approved by the Iowa House and signed by Governor Branstad, Iowa’s minimum wage would increase from $7.25 an hour to $8 an hour by July 1 of this year. It would increase again to $8.75 an hour by July 1, 2016.

“Estimates are that this initiative would boost the pay of 181,000 Iowa workers by a total of $147 million,” said Taylor. “All but one of our neighboring states have higher minimum wage laws. Rather than becoming a magnet for the very lowest paying employers, Iowa should keep building a high skill, high wage economy.”*

Senate File 270 strengthens Iowa’s laws against wage theft, the failure to pay workers for the work they’ve done. It was approved on a vote of 26 to 23. If it becomes law, Iowa’s wage theft laws would become more straightforward, employers would be required to keep a written record of the terms of employment, and whistleblowers would have protection from retaliation.

“I want the most basic right of every worker–the right to be paid what you are owed–to be respected in Iowa,” said Taylor. “Having a written record of the terms of employment is something most businesses already do. By eliminating the ‘he said, she said’ aspect of these disputes, disreputable employers will have a harder time cheating employees and competing unfairly against honest businesses.”

The two initiatives approved today are part of an agenda to help working families and help build an economy that works for all Iowans.

The Senate will continue working on:

• Investing in local schools that are committed to student achievement and teacher quality.

• Freezing tuition for Iowa residents at our state universities for a third year.

• Expanding worker training at our community colleges.

• Giving Iowa companies the first chance at state contracts.

• Putting together a balanced and fiscally responsible budget.

• Expanding access to high-speed Internet service throughout the state.

• Encouraging the production of homegrown energy, including biofuels, wind and solar.