Is there a double standard coming from Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris when it comes to paying workers $15 an hour?
Mayor Harris has been pushing employers hard to pay workers a living wage, but Local 24 News has learned when he was in position to hire people for his campaign, he wanted to pay them less than that.
Just this past weekend, Mayor Harris said it was a matter of “conscience” and “principle” when he vetoed a grant giving a million dollars to the University of Memphis because it still had some workers being paid $11 an hour.
Then, Monday night University of Memphis President David Rudd said the minimum wage would be increased from just over $11 to $15 an hour within two years.
Tuesday Local 24 News obtained a copy of a tweet sent out by Harris on January 27th saying his campaign was expanding! Looking for a part-time phone banker for a few hours a week during the day. The pay? $12 an hour; however, it said the pay during the 30-day probation period was $10 an hour.
Four days later we found the same message posted on Facebook, but supporters started questioning the candidate on why he wasn’t paying campaign workers a living wage. The candidate said he hated paying less, and he’d think about it.
A week later, on February 6, he edited the post, changing the pay to $15 an hour with a probation pay of $12. So, eventually Harris raised the pay, but the posting raises more questions. Were any other people on Harris’ campaign staff paid less than $15 an hour? Will the mayor commit to paying staffers a living wage in any future campaigns?
His spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment on a campaign-related issue. We sent text messages at both of the mayor’s known cell phones and left a voicemail at the one accepting messages.
We’ll keep trying and let you know what Mayor Harris has to say.