Rep. Tarr announces bills for wage disclosure and a $15 minimum wage

On the 12th anniversary of passage of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which improved workers’ legal rights to challenge wage discrimination in court, Representative Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, announced that she will introduce a pair of bills to raise Alaska’s minimum wage to $15 per hour and require employers to disclose the wages offered for a job for which they are hiring.

The proposed $15 per hour minimum wage would rise with inflation. The current minimum wage in Alaska is $10.34 per hour, up just 59 cents over a five-year period from $9.75 in 2016. According to the U.S. Census, 80,012 Alaskans—10.1 percent of the state’s population—struggled against poverty in 2019.

Representative Tarr’s wage disclosure bill would prohibit employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s wage history. Current law allows employers to discriminate against applicants by offering wages that they think an applicant will accept given their apparent race, gender or other identity marker.

“The pandemic revealed the deep failures in our economy and confirmed that many Alaskans are living on the edge of subsistence. I am reintroducing both an equal pay and minimum wage bill and a wage disclosure bill because these are two ways that Alaska can help lift families out of poverty, move toward a living wage and make our economy fairer for everyone.”

In a video filmed with her son Savio Crisostomo, Marlene McCabe of Anchorage’s Mountain View neighborhood spoke in support of Representative Tarr’s bills and described how a living wage would change their lives for the better.

“We would like a job that would give us 40 hours and also keep us from living in poverty,” said McCabe.

A living wage would help her family get “decent healthcare,” “reliable transportation,” “decent housing” and “nutritious food,” and allow them to “save money so we can go on a vacation.”

Savio, who is 10 years old, added: “Equal pay means that my mom and her male co-workers earn the same pay for the same position.” It “means having the economic stability to enjoy spending the money you earn with good health.”

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