July 6, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Birmingham, AL – Nine Alabama legislators filed a suit against their colleagues in federal court on June 30, charging that they violated the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 by pre-empting a minimum-wage increase in Birmingham.
The state legislature rushed through a law preventing local governments from raising the minimum wage in April, after the Birmingham City Council had voted to bring the city’s minimum from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. The nine legislators, all members of the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus, joined a suit already filed by Birmingham fast-food workers. It alleges that the mostly white legislature had disenfranchised voters in the city, whose population is about three-fourths black. Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham), one of the nine, said in a statement that his fellow legislators, in nullifying a law passed by the City Council, had taken “racist actions that strip black Alabama residents of their political power.” Read more