ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Protesters outside the Route 66 Malt Shop on Tuesday had one question: Why are Albuquerqueâs new minimum-wage rates not being enforced?
âWhatâs to stop anybody else in the city from not obeying the same law and paying whatever they want,â said Robert DiGiulio, one of dozens of
protestors gathered outside a Nob Hill malt shop that is ignoring the city ordinance that took effect on Jan. 1.
The owner of the Route 66 Malt Shop says it would be too expensive to pay the new minimum wage, adding that employees agreed to work for the lower wage.
"I have a quote from Martin Luther King, if you will, that it's our responsibility to disobey unjust laws," said owner Eric Szeman.
Albuquerqueâs city attorney says the administration wonât step in to enforce the new minimum wage law approved by voters last year.
âThe city attorneyâs office doesnât represent private employees and private causes of action with private employers,â David Tourek said. âThere are 40,000 businesses in the city of Albuquerque.â
Tourek says itâs up to the private employees who are affected to pursue legal action.
âIf the council were to appropriate and authorize me to start representing private individuals and private causes of action against their private employers, and provide the necessary appropriation, then I would follow that,â Tourek added.
But City Councilor Ken Sanchez says the ordinance already does allow the city to enforce the minimum wage increase.
âI donât agree with the city attorney,â Sanchez said. âMy biggest concern, if that is the case and we cannot find some enforcement, is that we are going to see a domino effect with many of these restaurant owners that feel, âIf they donât pay it, then why should we?ââ
City councilors Rey Gardu o and Isaac Benton shared the same concerns telling KRQE News 13 they also plan to question city administrators Wednesday night.
Sanchez says councilors will discuss enforcement of the new minimum wage Wednesday, but since it is not on the agenda, it could take another month or six weeks before the council can take action.
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