Johnson County Becomes 1st Iowa County to Pass Minimum Wage Increase

(Remember: It's been more than eight years since the last minimum wage increase in Iowa. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

But the City of Solon become 1st City in US History to lower the minimum wage

After failures by the US Congress and Iowa State legislature to raise the minimum wage, Johnson County Supervisors voted unanimously to raise minimum wage for its residents last Wednesday September 10th. The increase would be phased in over three stages until it reaches $10.10 per hour by 2017.

But before the first wage increase ($8.20/hour) could take effect on November 1st, the City Council members of Solon in Johnson County voted unanimously to lower the wage in city limits back down to $7.25.


According to Johnson County resident Paul Iverson who testified before the Solon city council, in taking this action, Solon has become the first city in US history that has decided to lower its minimum wage. 

With high demand for housing from the student population, and a large population of professionals and academics, Johnson County is one of the most expensive places to live in Iowa according to Iowa Policy Project. It is also one of the fastest growing in the state. 

Yet several of Iowa City schools have extraordinarily high percent enrollment of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. The minimum wage increase was targeted to help that underclass, many of whom are immigrants and refugees, and many of whom are working two jobs or are victims of wage theft.

Iowa's Home Rule law clearly was examined by the Solon city council whose attorney already had a local ordinance drafted and presented to the council for a first reading on September 12th, only two days after Johnson County passed the increase. Dozens of people testified against lowering the wage at the second reading at the September 16th meeting– both from the community and surrounding areas. Fewer than five testified in favor of it, most of them restaurant owners who provided anecdotal evidence, but no hard facts about how this would hurt business.  

Normally, such an ordinance would have three readings before a vote, but perhaps because Solon did not want to give the community enough time to organize, they motioned to waive this requirement and combine it into two readings. After public testimony ended, without any discussion by the city council members, they voted 5-0 to lower the wage. 

I wondered how representative these council members were of the community, so I looked up the results from the last election in 2013 when three of the five members ran uncontested. Of the 1,396 registered voters in Solon, 63 people voted altogether, with the three uncontested council members getting 43, 49 and 50 votes.

The City of Swisher is next in line to consider opting-out of the wage increase. It’s been reported this will be discussed at their October 12 meeting. 



  • thanks for this post

    I will move it to the front page.

    I'm amazed anyone would think $10.10 is too high for a minimum wage.  

  • Justify

    Justify why it should be?

    Minimal skills shouldn't command high compensation nor should sympathy.

    If you are not a student, whether high school or college age, and you are still making minimum wage, and you chose to have certain things you can not afford, that's on you.

    And no raise in wage will change the fact they still have no discernable skills or want to better themselves.

    • Justice, not justify

      Work is work, regardless of the skill level. And no one who works should be compensated with poverty wages. Whether you are a student or the 35 year old woman who is your typical minimum wage earner, $7.25 is a poverty wage, especially in Johnson County.  

      School cafeteria workers earn minimum wage. They know how to cook, how to clean, how to interract with students, how to cooperate to feed hundreds of students each day. Is this not a skill?

      Wait staff and bus boys and cooks - are they not skilled? Have you ever stood on your feet for 8 hours in a hot kitchen, making delicious foods near a hot fryer? Skills. Have you ever dealt with obnoxious sexist customers and not thrown water over their heads? Skills.

      This concept that some work is "unskilled" is elitist and false. All work has value. Trouble is not all people value work.  

      • That's unskilled

        If a person can be replaced in one day it is unskilled work.  Most people can be taught to do all the things you mentioned in a day.  Standing on your feet for eight hours is work...not a skill. Nobody is better off by raising the minimum wage. The ones that work the hardest will have to work harder and others will get fired. The money the harder-working people get won't go as far because the cost of everything goes up. (That's if the small businesses don't go under and everyone loses their job. Many of them will.)

        Any ordinance or bill to raise the minimum wage should be titled "minority and poverty-line-worker forced unemployment act."

      • No

        No, I consider that work, but by no means should someone be satisfied with calling those jobs a living wage job, its a stepping stone.

        If you don't value a skill, if you don't value bettering yourself and commit to a low skilldd, low paying job, don't expect someone else to pick up the ticket to get you a high income life style.

        The purpose of those jobs is to teach you to strive to not have to hold those jobs, jobs that aren't meant to provide a living wage. You obtain thaose jobs early on to develop the foundations of work ethic. When you go from mopping all day and pronotted to burger flipper because of your diligence, and if you continue to develop skills, you continue to climb.

        The goal in life, isbto keep climbing, be better. You start low and work your way up.

        But since we are in this dialogue, lets raise minimum wage to 15/hr because you claim that's a living wage.and if that's a living aags, lets abolish most forms of welfare. Thus abolish most taxes the business owner props up, and the less the new living wage recipient has to pay taxes on. Thus pulling people OUT of AND at the same time reducing all forms of government welfare.

        Sound good?

      • Those

        Those who don't value work, are the ones who want the minimum pay raised.

        I value work. I don't value some who whines that because they graduated college are entitled to more compensation, I don't value a fast food worker demanding 15/hr for unskilled work, I don't value unjustly raising minimum wage because someone is complacent in life.

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