New London — With a stroke of the mayor's pen Tuesday afternoon, city employees and contractors who earn minimum wage got a $1.40 per hour raise.
Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio signed an ordinance, approved Monday night by the City Council, to raise the minimum wage for municipal employees and contractors working for the city to $10.10 an hour.
With the signing of the ordinance, New London became the first Connecticut city to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, something President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, urged governors, mayors and private employers to do.
"This is long overdue," the mayor said. "It's a good step for our city, and hopefully, other municipalities throughout Connecticut will follow suit, hopefully the state will follow suit and hopefully the nation as well."
Finizio said the ordinance, which he proposed in January, was inspired by the president's "call to action."
Later Tuesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy commended the city's action.
"I applaud Mayor Finizio and the City of New London for taking steps that will help increase the momentum in our efforts to raise the minimum wage both on the state level and nationally," the governor said in a statement.
Finizio will attend President Obama's appearance today at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain to tout his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to the same amount. Finizio said he and his husband were invited by the White House to attend as VIP guests.
The City Council approved the ordinance in a 6-1 vote Monday night.
"Some of the hardest-working people in America work at low-paying jobs, and they deserve the dignity of a fair wage," Council President Wade A. Hyslop said in a statement.
Councilor Martin Olsen voted against the raise.
Though the city's full-time employees make more than $10.10 per hour, the raise will benefit about 25 seasonal employees who work at various programs run through the city's Recreation Department.
Finizio said he will include funding for the same number of those seasonal positions in the budget he will present to the council on April 1. The wage increase will cost the city approximately $13,500 annually, the mayor said.
"I feel that is a nominal impact to do the right thing," Finizio said Monday night.
The minimum wage in Connecticut is $8.70.