Denver airport minimum wage initiative withdrawn from May ballot; Denver City Council approves minimum wage increase for city employees

On March 11, 2019, the Denver City Council voted unanimously in favor of Council Bill 19-0163, a minimum wage increase backed by Mayor Michael Hancock. The measure was designed to raise the minimum wage for city employees, city contractors, and employees working on city properties from $11.10 an hour to $13 in July 2019, $14 in July 2020, and $15 in July 2021.

Prior to the bill’s passage, the city was set to vote on an initiative to increase the minimum wage for employees at the Denver International Airport during the May 7 municipal election. Unite Here Local 23 began collecting signatures for the minimum wage citizen initiative in August 2018. The Denver Elections Division verified in November 2018 that the group had submitted a sufficient number of signatures to place the initiative on the May ballot. Approval of the citizen initiative would have enacted minimum wage increases following the same schedule as the mayor’s bill but with increases only for employees working at the airport.

Council Bill 19-0163 provides for the minimum wage increases for airport employees supported by Unite Here Local 23 while it also provides for the same increases for other city employees, city contractors, and employees working on city properties. Following the council’s vote to pass the bill, proponents withdrew the citizen initiative from the May ballot.