The Governor's Black Advisory Council is supporting a proposed bill that would raise Utah's current two-tiered minimum wage structure to the federal minimum wage of $3.35 per hour.

SB39 is sponsored by Sen. Frances Farley, D-Salt Lake. If the bill passes, Utah would join 31 other states that have a minimum wage equal to or higher than the federal standard.Utah is among 41 states that have adopted a minimum wage standard for jobs not covered by federal rules and regulations. Of that number, nine have set minimums higher than the federal rate. Utah ranks 36th among the 41.

Utah businesses in areas of high population, such as along the Wasatch Front, must pay $2.55 per hour, $2.65 or $2.75, depending on the gross revenues generated by the business. These wages generally apply to students or jobs traditionally held by women. In the rural areas of Utah, the standards are $2.30, $2.40 and $2.50 per hour.

Literature issued by Farley states, "A serious concern is that the Utah law is antiquated and could be unenforceable. It was written in a time when protective legislation for women was accepted. Under federal Title VII, the Utah law, where it applies only to women or minors, is unenforceable."

The council agreed and members plan to be at the state Capitol on Feb. 3, to meet with legislators to help drum up support for the measure. Faye Wine, chairman of the council's legislative committee, said it is important to make legislators aware of public sentiment. Council members said the present law is indicative of the subtle kinds of discrimination that still exist and that should be addressed by the Legislature.

The council praised efforts to pass a fair housing statute in Utah, saying the measure is long overdue. They noted that black women are often hit by triple discrimination. Not only are they black and women, they often are single heads of households with very limited resources.


Hourly wage rates:

Arizonao no minimum

Colorado $3

Idaho $2.30

Montana $3.35*

Nevada $3.35*

New Mexico $3.35*

Wyoming $1.60

Utah $2.30/$2.75 per hour

* Same as federal minimum