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Austin AFSCME members secure $20 minimum wage for city and county workers

Photo: AFSCME Local 1624 Productions
By Anna Dang ·

AUSTIN – Members of AFSCME Local 1624 (Texas) have won a $20 per hour minimum wage for all Austin city and Travis County employees. That’s a 33% increase from the previous minimum wage of $15 per hour, which about 5,000 city employees and 600 county employees will see.

The living wage increase has been a priority for both AFSCME members and the Austin City Council after the minimum wage became stagnant in 2018, while Austin has had one of the highest increases in cost of living among U.S. cities in the last decade.

For Robert Middleton, who has worked as a technician for Austin’s bridges and streets for the last seven years, this minimum wage increase helps him keep up with Austin’s rising living costs so that he can focus on the job.

“It was starting to become a decision where…I love my job, but I'm not being able to make ends meet,” Middleton said. “This was an opportunity to take care of the workers, but also guarantees that citizens have the best [people] out there working for them.”

In August, the Austin City Council approved the budget for the $20 hourly wage to start in October, and they have a goal of a $22 minimum wage in the future.

It was AFSCME Local 1624 (Texas) members who used their voices to set the precedence for this $22 hourly wage goal for municipal employees. After announcing the goal of $22 in 2022 at their Cesar Chavez March & Day of Action on March 26, members shared their stories with the city council, and they passed a resolution for the $22 hourly minimum wage. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year, however, was only able to accommodate the $20 wage increase.

According to Middleton, this living wage victory continues to spotlight why it’s beneficial to join AFSCME.

“A lot of times [we] have people who want to speak but don't know how. [AFSCME] organized and made our voices heard…it’s worth it.”

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