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This morning, John Bel Edwards was sworn in as Louisiana’s 56th governor. While not minimizing the state’s significant fiscal challenges, Gov. Edwards understands that the state’s economy and prosperity cannot improve without improving the lives of its working families.
“In Louisiana, 1 in 4 school-aged children live in poverty. That’s unacceptable and it MUST change.
It’s unacceptable when a parent’s hard work isn’t enough to pay the bills or go to a doctor. I’ve traveled from Algiers to Zwolle and met countless single mothers working for minimum wage behind a cash register at a gas station. Often, it’s one of several jobs they have, and they still battle to make ends meet. The faces are different, but their struggles are the same.
On top of not paying our workers a living wage, women in Louisiana make an average 66 cents on the dollar compared to men. We are the worst state in the union for pay equity. That is unacceptable. Not just for my daughters, but for all women.”
Pledging that “[w]e must make it possible for all Louisiana citizens to be healthy and prosperous,” Gov. Edwards will seek to expand Medicaid to enable many of the state’s working families access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. He also called for an increase in wages and for wage equity in the state.
The full text of Gov. Edwards’ speech may be read here.
On August 18, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed into law a new living wage ordinance for New Orleans’ city contractors and financial assistance recipients.
“If you’re working full-time, you should not be living below the poverty line,” Landrieu said.
The ordinance was sponsored by Councilmember Jared Brossett. It 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. Covered businesses must also provide workers with seven days of paid sick leave annually.
TakePart’s profile of the workers who came to help rebuild New Orleans 10 years ago and who remain, despite wage theft and discrimination. Their story is very much the heart of the Workplace Justice Project and the Wage Claim Clinic and is still an essential element of the landscape for low-wage workers in New Orleans.