Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Fair Wage Campaign shifts from referendum to mayoral proposal

By Luke Schneider

News writer

With sheets of signatures hanging behind them, members of the Madison Fair Wage Campaign held a press conference in front of Madison’s City Hall on Friday morning to announce that the record number of signatures received will not be used in a referendum, as originally intended but rather to support Mayor Cieslewicz’s minimum wage proposal.


“We’ve collected 13,136 signatures in favor of a $7.75 municipal wage,” said Austin King, District 8 alder and member of the Madison Fair Wage Campaign. “That’s the most signatures that have ever been collected on an issue in recent memory in the city of Madison.”

Despite receiving more than the 12,854 signatures required for ballot eligibility, it will not be put to referendum.

“The Madison Fair Wage steering committee has voted to use our 13,136 signatures to support the minimum wage ordinance introduced by Mayor Cieslewicz instead of a referendum,” King announced. “This was a tremendously difficult decision for us in large part because we believe that we will win with either pass, and it’s so difficult to tell a volunteer that’s been working so hard to get signatures on this issue that the very signatures that he or she collected won’t be turned in.”

Kim Lampereur, a volunteer for the campaign, still saw their effort as a success.

“We need all these signatures in order to show that people in the community support this and so now the alders are going to support it because they know that their constituents support it,” Lamereur replied.

King went on to discuss the reasons why this process would be a more favorable one.

“The end product of the council process will be more inclusive of public input and the tweaking the ordinance in response to specific public input can only make the ordinance stronger,” King said.

“Even though they’ve decided not to turn in the signatures and start the referendum process, this work is far from lost,” Cieslewicz said. “All of that organizing is really the momentum behind the ordinance we will be introducing.”

Cieslewicz then explained that the ordinance will mirror the proposed referendum by the Madison Fair Wage Campaign, but it will be “drafted just a little bit differently to make sure that it’s sound and can withstand a legal challenge.”

Both support and opposition to the proposed minimum wage hike exists.

“The entire city was supportive,” King said. “We’ve had a lot of businesses come out in support of it; we’ve had a few businesses come out against it.”

“Every time there’s ever been a minimum wage hike proposed, big business lobbies have said the sky’s going to fall,” King said.

King explained that the largest opposition includes Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce and Rep. Glen Grothman’s bill in the state legislature that would “preempt us from doing this.”

“I’m confident that we’ll prevail sometime very early next June,” Cieslewicz said.

“With the mayor’s leadership, this has, I’d say, a 99-percent chance of passing the council,” King replied.

King addressed the possibility of the ordinance failing to be passed.

“We can certainly put it on the November 2004 ballot, and we will if the council fails to act by June of 2004,” King said.

During the conference, much thanks was given to the volunteers of the Madison Fair Wage Campaign that included both community and student groups.

“We couldn’t have done it without our strong volunteers,” said Joseph Lindstrom, organizer for the campaign. “To the students in particular who were a part of this, I’m very proud of the work that they did and I think that this campaign can show that student activists and organizers can be a very effective lead role in a community-wide movement for social change.”

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