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July 26, 2013

Burlingtonians Urge City to Give Livable-Wage Ordinance a Makeover

Melissa Gelinas of the Peace & Justice Center calls for changes to Burlington's livable-wage ordinance Thursday night. Photo by Taylor Dobbs.


A handful of speakers urged a Burlington City Council committee Thursday evening to put some teeth into the city's livable-wage ordinance.

Adopted 12 years ago but largely unenforced, the ordinance became the subject of a heated debate last November after the Skinny Pancake was granted an exemption to the rule when it opened a new restaurant at the city-owned Burlington International Airport.

The ordinance requires companies receiving $15,000 in city contracts to pay their employees a livable wage — $13.94 an hour for employees provided health insurance or $15.83 for employees without. A 55-page report issued in April by City Attorney Eileen Blackwood found that only 23 of 160 companies with contracts subject to the ordinance were in compliance.

Thursday night, at the Burlington Police Department's community room, the council's three-member ordinance committee continued its review of the rule, with an eye toward improving its enforcement. But at least one speaker was displeased with the committee's progress.

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