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Living wage not part of city bus contract


On a night when city commissioners began to talk about the future of the city’s living wage ordinance, they also took some less noticeable action on the subject. The city approved a five year contract with MV Transportation to continue running the city’s public transit system. One of the many provisions in that contract spells out what the starting salary must be for bus drivers: $9.75 an hour. That wage is far less than the $11 per hour that the city currently has set as the living wage that companies who have received tax abatements must pay to all their employees. Technically, MV Transportation is not required to pay a living wage under the city’s ordinance. Only companies that have received a property tax abatement since 2003 are required to pay the wage. But as commissioners have pointed out previously, the concept behind the living wage is that if government is going to subsidize a business, it should be required to pay the wage. Saying that MV Transportation is subsidized by the city wouldn’t be accurate either. It would be more accurate to say MV owes much of its existence in Lawrence to government funding. Until it got a contract to run the Kansas University bus system earlier this year, MV’s only real source of revenue in Lawrence came from monthly checks from the city. Commissioner Boog Highberger last year expressed a desire to have the new contract include a living wage requirement. But over the course of the next year, that idea never gained much traction with commissioners, or with KU leaders who also were negotiating a contract with the city. Requiring the company to pay a living wage in all likelihood would have resulted in higher payments the city would have had to make to MV. Commissioners never said whether that was the reason the idea wasn’t pursued more. What do you think? Should businesses who are subject to paying the wage be upset, or are city leaders doing the right thing by protecting taxpayer dollars?


Steve Jacob 9 years, 1 month ago

In one word U-N-I-O-N. They have been hitting up the bus drivers in KC, and under Obama, that will have more power.

Sigmund 9 years, 1 month ago

Chad Lawhorn pointing out hypocrisy of the Lawrence City Commission and at the same time pointing up how hugely mismanaged the empTy is and what morons we were for passing his highly 'touted' increase in sales tax?

BigPrune 9 years, 1 month ago

Do as I say, NOT as I do!Sincerely,The City

Sharon Aikins 9 years ago

Yeah, sjr, so transportation can compare to the big three auto makers? In a recent TV interview, one lady, a union line assembly worker, said that she only took home $35/hour but agreed that with benefits she probably did earn the $68/hour the interviewer had mentioned. You add that to grossly overpaid management and we wonder why cars are so expensive and they're all going under. Yet bus drivers only get $9.75/hour? Something's wrong with both pictures here.

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