Mayor Marty Walsh affirms his support for a $15 minimum wage

Marty Walsh confirmed his support for a $15-an-hour minimum wage Thursday in Washington, D.C.
Marty Walsh confirmed his support for a $15-an-hour minimum wage Thursday in Washington, D.C. –Carolyn Kaster / AP

After Mayor Marty Walsh announced a task force to study a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Boston during Tuesday night’s State of the City address, there were some questions as to whether he actually supported the policy.

During a press briefing Thursday in Washington, D.C., where Walsh was visiting for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a reporter pressed him on specifically that question.

“I think there’s some question about whether you support a $15-an-hour minimum wage, or whether the study is to determine whether you would support it,’’ the reporter asked.

“Both,’’ Walsh said. “The study is for both. I support a $15-an-hour minimum wage, but also we’re going to have business leaders, nonprofits, community workers sitting down talking about how will this be implemented, what the effects will be.’’

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While in D.C., Walsh said he also briefly discussed the policy with President Barack Obama and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.

“I certainly support a $15-an-hour minimum wage,’’ Walsh reiterated. “As a legislator, I voted for the increase in the minimum wage a couple times in Massachusetts. But this is a task force to really look at how we’re going to get there. I know that also we’re going to need a state law change to get there.’’

Massachusetts raised its minimum wage to $10 an hour January 1, above the federal wage floor of $7.25 an hour. The state is set to increase it to $11 an hour in 2017.

Walsh noted how Seattle recently instituted a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and that three Boston hospitals — Boston, Tufts, and Beth Israel medical centers — did the same for their employees in December.

“We’re starting to see the momentum going that way, so I felt it was the appropriate time,’’ Walsh said.

The mayor also mentioned a recent Brookings Institution study, which found Boston had the highest inequality of all American cities, as a reason for acting now.

“We have to address those issues,’’ he said.

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