Contractors who do significant work for the city of New Orleans will have to start paying their employees on those jobs $10.55 an hour and provide seven days of paid sick leave next year under a “living wage” ordinance signed Monday by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
“If you’re working full-time, you should not be living below the poverty line,” Landrieu said.
The ordinance, which was sponsored by City Councilman Jared Brossett, will apply to city contractors with contracts worth at least $25,000 and to companies or organizations that receive more than $100,000 in financial assistance from the city, including subsidies and tax breaks, over a 12-month period.
The required wage will rise with inflation, and companies that pay their workers more than 30 percent above the base wage will be exempt from the sick leave requirement.
State law prevents the city from setting its own minimum wage, so the lowest wage for workers in the private sector in New Orleans is the federal rate of $7.25 an hour.
However, the city is able to control the wages of its employees and contractors, and Brossett’s measure — passed 6-0 this month — came after the Landrieu administration last year raised the pay for the lowest-paid city employees to $10.10 an hour.
Advocates for workers had pushed for the measure, even as they argued that a much higher minimum wage is needed to match the cost of living in the city.
It remains unclear exactly how many workers will be affected by the change or what it will cost to implement it. Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin said the cost to the city could be offset by competition in the bidding process for those contracts.