Act of Alabama 2016-18

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Act of Alabama 2016-18, the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage and Right-to-Work Act, is a state law, passed during the 2016 Alabama legislative session, by which the Alabama State Legislature asserts that it "occupies and preempts the entire field of regulation in this state touching in any way upon collective bargaining under federal labor laws or the wages, leave, or other employment benefits provided by an employer to an employee, class of employees, or independent contractor to the complete exclusion of any policy, ordinance, rule, or other mandate promulgated or enforced by any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state." Since Alabama has provisions for a statewide minimum wage, the federal minimum wage is enforced.

The bill was brought in response to Birmingham's minimum wage ordinance, which had passed on July 18, 2015 and was set to begin taking effect on July 1, 2016. The city ordinance was the first such local minimum wage to be passed in the Southeastern United States. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu visited Birmingham on February 4, 2016 to express the Obama administration's support for measures like Birmingham's.

Bills submitted by Representative Arnold Mooney (R-District 43) in the 2015 Alabama legislative session and by David Faulker (R-District 46) in the special session would nullify any pre-existing laws and flatly establish that no county or municipality could set a minimum wage, minimum leave time, minimum benefits, or any other policy regulating the relationship between workers and their employers. The bills did not come to a vote in 2015, but Faulkner reintroduced his version, as House Bill 174, in the 2016 session.

The newly-chartered Raise Up Alabama, made up of members of Alabama Fight for $15, Greater Birmingham Ministries, Moral Movement Alabama, Engage Alabama; the National Employment Law Project; United Steelworkers District 9; RWDSU Mid-South Council; the Alabama AFL-CIO; and others, organized demonstrations at Mountain Brook Village in Faulkner's legislative district on February 16.

Faulkner defended the bill as intended solely to preserve a universal statewide minimum wage, to prevent a circumstance where businesses faced a confusing array of changing local minimum wages.

Despite the organized opposition, the bill passed the Alabama House of Representatives by a party-line 71-31 vote (with one abstention) that same day. An amendment proposed by Democratic representative Darrio Melton of Selma, to establish a statewide $10.10 minimum wage, was defeated by a 71-30 vote.

The bill was introduced into the State Senate by Republican Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills. The Senate passed the measure on a 23-11 vote on February 25, sending it to Governor Robert Bentley, who signed it into law on February 26. The next day, during a primary campaign event at Miles College, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke in favor of raising the federal minimum wage and also in support of local minimum wage laws.


In April a group of fast food workers with support from the Alabama NAACP and Greater Birmingham Ministries filed a challenge to the law claiming that it violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. They later added a claim that it also violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by usurping for the majority white legislature powers previously held by Birmingham's majority Black voters. Federal District Court Judge David Proctor dismissed the suit finding no evidence of racial intent behind the law. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.


  • Bryant, Joseph D. (April 21, 2015 ) "Birmingham City Council endorses campaign to increase minimum wage as legislators move to restrict local authority to do so."
  • Poe, Kelly (February 4, 2016) "Federal Department of Labor supporting Birmingham in fight to raise minimum wage." The Birmingham News
  • Cason, Mike (February 16, 2016) "Bill to block Birmingham's minimum wage clears House." The Birmingham News
  • Owens, Cody (February 18, 2016) "'I’m not against the poor'." Weld for Birmingham
  • Stein, Kelsey (February 23, 2016) "Birmingham businesses need 'reasonable' time to comply with minimum wage, Alabama AG says." The Birmingham News
  • Kelly, Mark (February 24, 2016) "Orwellian Alabama." Weld for Birmingham
  • Cason, Mike (February 25, 2016) "Gov. Robert Bentley signs bill to block city minimum wages, voiding Birmingham ordinance." The Birmingham News
  • Whitmire, Kyle (February 25, 2016) "Why Alabama lawmakers just killed Birmingham's minimum wage." The Birmingham News
  • Roth, Zachary (February 26, 2016) "Birmingham Raises Minimum Wage and Alabama Takes it Away."
  • HallGray, Crystal (February 28, 2016) "Hillary Clinton stumps across the Birmingham metro area."
  • Poe, Kelly (February 1, 2017) "Lawsuit that sought to invalidate state's minimum wage block dismissed." The Birmingham News

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