Living Wages

After IAF affiliates designed and passed the nation's first living wage bill in Baltimore in 1994, West / Southwest IAF organizations soon organized for living wage ordinances of their own.

In 1998, Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) / Metro Alliance leaders succeeded in persuading the City of San Antonio to institute a city-wide tax abatement ordinance requiring companies that benefit from municipal tax incentives to pay a living wage, with benefits. COPS / Metro leaders later fought the building of a hotel in the City that refused to meet the newly instituted living wage standard, effectively shutting the project down.

In 2012, they successfully defended that ordinance against a proposal from Maruchan, helping save their city $8 Million in unnecessary subsidies. Two years later they launched a living wage campaign to raise the wage standard of workers in Bexar County.

In 1998, Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC) persuaded the City of Tucson to pass a living wage standard. In 2001 one hundred religious and community leaders piled into a Board of Supervisors' hearing to pass a similar Living Wage Ordinance for businesses receiving Pima County contracts.

By 2000, MIT economist Paul Osterman estimated that the work of Valley Interfaith in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas raised wages in the region by $9.3 Million per year. Within ten more years, Valley Interfaith furthermore leveraged commitments from Cameron County, the City of Brownsville and the Texas Southernmost Community College to raise the starting wages of their employees (including contracted) by over $1 per hour.

In 2014, Austin Interfaith succeeded in persuading the Austin Independent School District to adopt federal Davis-Bacon wage standards for workers contracted for school construction. The previous year, they succeeded in getting the City of Austin to pass a historic living wage ordinance requiring that any corporation receiving future taxpayer incentives pay the City established living wage of $11 per hour or prevailing wage, whichever is higher.

In Baltimore, Tucson and cities across Texas, stories about working adults struggling to raise families with wages that are too low to live on were shared in church basements and at food pantries, after school and on work sites. IAF organizations created the space for people to transform their private pain into innovative solutions benefiting not only individual families, but local economies across the nation.



"Report on the Impact of the Valley Interfaith Living Wage Campaign," MIT (2000)