While the Nevada Legislature recently approved raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2024, there is still a push to increase the wage to at least $15 an hour. Fast food workers and unions plan to strike across the country this Friday as part of ongoing efforts to earn a livable wage.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, who along with most of Nevada’s congressional delegation and virtually every other Democrat running for president, supports federal legislation to raise the wage to $15 by 2024, and plans to join in the Las Vegas strike. Other presidential candidates are expected to attend other rallies across the country, including former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg in South Carolina.
Nevada’s minimum wage is $8.25 if the employer does not provide health benefits, and $7.25 if the employer does.
Despite local activists and unions lobbying for $15 per hour, Nevada lawmakers landed on $12 as a compromise for business owners, who said providing higher wages would hurt smaller companies. Assembly Bill 456, which incrementally increases the wage until 2024, is currently on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk waiting for his signature.
Lawmakers also passed Assembly Joint Resolution 10, which would go before voters in 2020 and seeks to amend the state constitution to eliminate the two-tiered wage so that the higher wage would apply to all minimum wage workers.
Low-wage workers, unions and economists fear $12 won’t be enough to help people struggling economically.
SEIU, the union that has been at the front of the push for higher minimum wages, called Nevada’s bill a starting point that wouldn’t have happened without Fight for $15 strikes.
“When fast-food workers walked off the job nearly seven years ago demanding $15 and a union, nobody thought the workers had a chance,” said Grace Vergara-Mactal, executive director of SEIU Nevada Local 1107, in a statement about AB 456. “Now we see that our movement is gaining momentum, and raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour is a step in the right direction that will provide more Nevadans economic relief.”
In addition to fighting for a wage increase, Friday’s strike also is calling to end sexual harassment, strengthen unions and protect workers from violence in the workplace.
Nevada lawmakers also took steps during the session to address workplace violence, though protections specifically focused on nurses and other health care workers.