Rising Inequality and Progressive City Response: Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave

black, yellow, and red rectangles, colorized US state map with white and black text

image / provided

Mildred Warner and Students in CRP 5074 Economic Development Policy Workshop


Mildred Warner
Cities across the world are faced with the challenges of fiscal stress, service delivery restructuring, and the imperative to promote economic development. Mildred Warner is an international expert on restructuring local government services, how to plan for more child and age-friendly cities, and how to promote environmental sustainability at the local level. Decentralization has elevated the importance of local government worldwide, but social protection is challenged by devolution, privatization, and fiscal crisis. Cities must pick up the slack and Warner's research explores how. She has authored more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and professional reports, and has received major research grants from government entities and foundations. Warner works closely with local government, planners, policy analysts, economic developers, and union leaders both in the U.S. and abroad. She received her B.A. in history from Oberlin College, and her M.S. in agricultural economics and Ph.D. in development sociology from Cornell University.

CRP 5074 Economic Development Policy Workshop
The fall 2020 Economic and Community Development Workshop instructed by Professor Mildred Warner explored policy choices available to local governments to promote more equitable and inclusive development. Student teams in the workshop explored local government policy regarding labor — living wage, minimum wage, fair scheduling, and paid leave. Student presenters from the workshop include Olivia Gee '22, Tiolora Lumbantoruan (M.R.P. '21), Alekhya Mukkavilli (M.R.P. '21), Carlos Lopez (M.R.P. '21), Brian Toy (M.R.P. '21), Kania Thea Pradipta (M.R.P. '21), Ella Sahertian (M.R.P. '21), and Mediatrich Triani (M.R.P. '21).


As racial disparities and inequalities continue to grow across the US, cities are increasingly adopting progressive initiatives to address these issues. We examine the role of coalitions at the city and state level to raise the minimum wage and expand access to paid sick leave. Wages for middle and low-wage workers have stagnated or fallen since the late 1970s, and millions of workers lack access to paid sick leave. We profile the strategies cities and their partners have used to achieve success, despite corporate push back against progressive city action through state preemption of city power. Early leaders on paid sick leave, such as San Francisco and Seattle are contrasted with later implementers such as Pittsburgh and Duluth. Minimum wage efforts in Flagstaff, Arizona; St. Louis, Missouri; Tampa, Orlando, and Miami, Florida; and Greensboro and Durham, North Carolina illustrate the power of these coalitions and their ability to promote change.

These reports produced from the Economic Development Policy Workshop are available on Professor Warner's Restructuring Local Government website:

If you would like to attend this lecture, please register here.

Also of Interest

Close overlay