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Gee, Olivia, Tiolora Lumbantoruan, Alekhya Mukkavilli, and Brian Toy. 2020. “Towards Fair Wages: Minimum wage wins and the labor coalitions that drive them,” Dept. of City and Reg. Planning, Cornell University.

Wages for middle- and low-wage workers have stagnated or fallen since the late 1970s with the only reversal against this trend coming from state and local minimum wage increases (Mishel et. al., 2015; NELP, 2020). Minimum wage State preemption laws inhibit local minimum wage movements across 26 states (Economic Policy Institute, 2019). As such, workers across the country are increasingly unable to afford rising costs of living in urban localities.  In response to state preemption of city minimum wage ordinances, this study provides four case studies: Flagstaff, Arizona; St. Louis Missouri; Tampa, Orlando, and Miami, Florida; and Greensboro and Durham North Carolina. In each case, urban minimum wage movements realized raised wages in fiscally conservative states. The city level is a promising stage for these initiatives, because cities house advocacy networks that can force legislative change either at the state or local levels and can lead ballot initiatives. This study finds that coalitions of workers, advocacy groups, and supporting government officials, referred to as “labor coalitions” throughout the report, are crucial to raising wages.

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Subject: Economic Development