FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With a new minimum wage set to start in July, they city hired someone to help both employers and their workers understand the new wage law.
The new minimum wage of $10.50 an hour was scheduled to go into effect in the summer of 2017 and businesses and their employees had a new resource to reach out to in preparation.
As customers walked into The Print Raven, every copy ordered and printed needed a worker behind the job.
Beginning July 1, that employee and many others in Flagstaff would be making $10.50 an hour. “And that’s where James’s efforts will be important,” the owner of the print shop, Ed Goodwin said. Goodwin and his wife said they wouldn’t have a problem cranking out the new minimum wage and understood the gradual increases that would come with it. The raises were set to end at $15.50 an hour by the start of the year 2022, but when the details were sliced out, things got a bit more complicated. “Details I think probably people are not aware of and hopefully James can help people understand and help with those reporting requirements,” Goodwin said.
James May hoped to do just that. He was the city’s new Interim Labor Standards Manager—educating employers and workers about the new law. “There’s been a concern amongst employers that we will come in and demand all of their financial records. That is not our intent at all,” May said. May said investigations would be complaint-driven. “An employee or a worker who feels as though they are not being paid the appropriate minimum wage now has a local avenue to pursue their claim,” May said. If it turns out an accusation is valid, there could be penalties. The employer could end up paying up to three times the owed back wages.
As the first city in Arizona to implement a local minimum wage, May said there were a lot of eyes on Flagstaff looking to replicate these new standards—if they didn’t cause too much trouble here.
“I’ve received calls from across the country,” May said.
There was an initiative underway that could go up for vote in November of 2018. If passed, it would completely change the new minimum wage law and would cut the Office of Labor Standards.