With every turn of the calendar, we look ahead with optimism and hope. Those of us who have chosen the path of elected public service are optimistic and hopeful by nature. We strive to make our city a better place. Looking forward to 2016, we are hopeful about the opportunities provided by New Orleans’ first Living Wage Law, one of my proudest accomplishments as a City Council member.
The Living Wage Law that was passed in August takes effect today, Jan. 1. The law requires city contractors and recipients of city grants and tax breaks to pay their employees a minimum of $10.55 per hour and provide at least seven days of paid sick leave annually. Additionally, the Living Wage Law stipulates annual wage increases with inflation. In 2002, the people of New Orleans passed a charter amendment to increase the minimum wage for all workers. Unfortunately, this effort was blocked by state law. The new law effectuates a fair and reasonable wage and sick leave standard for all workers involved in city-contracted work.
At the end of the day, this is about taking another step toward being the city we want to be — a city where a hard day’s work equates to a comfortable life. I am optimistic that through efforts like the Living Wage Law, the city and country can re-establish middle-class prosperity. Everyone deserves a reasonable standard of living and all children deserve every opportunity to thrive and excel. It is unacceptable to aim at a target any lower.
In the new year, we expect many old and persistent challenges, but with these obstacles come many new and exciting opportunities. Our local economy is growing, giving us the tools to prosper. To maximize this growth, we need to focus on workforce training, increased small-business development and opportunities for all New Orleanians. I am determined to continue pushing common-sense legislation that will improve the lives of all citizens in New Orleans in 2016 and beyond.
So let us all come together and welcome 2016! It is going to be a great year to be a New Orleanian.
Jared C. Brossett
c ouncil member, District D