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KNBA News - Anchorage Rep. Mike Hawker withdraws from re-election; Minimum wage increases by $1

Lead negotiator on costly Anchorage Legislative Office resigns

The Associated Press

Anchorage Republican Representative Mike Hawker has withdrawn his re-election bid. In a statement, he said he wants to make the most of his “miraculous" response to cancer treatment, study for ordination as a Roman Catholic deacon, and work on health care reform.

Hawker was first elected to the state House in 2002. Aide Juli Lucky said by email that he plans to serve out his current term.

Hawker is known for his policy work, including his involvement in legislation setting up the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. But he’s also endured criticism over the cost of a lease for Anchorage legislative office space that he helped negotiate.

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Minimum wage hike comes January 1, 2016

By Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

On Jan. 1, 2016 minimum wage workers in Alaska will get a pay raise of a dollar an hour.

In 2014 Alaskans voted for one-dollar increases to go into effect in 2015 and 2016. The first, raised it from$7.75 per hour, to $8.75. The second, to $9.75 an hour goes into effect January 1, 2016.

Joe Dunham is statewide supervising investigator of Wage and Hour Administration at the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. He says affected jobs include some in fish processing, fast food, and home health care. He says the change also affects workers paid by how much they produce instead of an hourly rate.

“For example, if a sheet rock hanger gets 20 cents square foot, he still has to be paid at least min wage for all hours worked in the pay period,” said Dunham. “So if he has a bad day or week or a pay period where he’s running out of supplies and, y’know, not really hanging a lot of sheet rock, all hours worked times the minimum wage is the least his paycheck can be. So it actually applies to all employees.

Durham says the change also affects employees who are exempt from overtime pay requirements.

“For example, a manager being paid on a salary basis,” said Dunham. “The minimum salary is twice the current minimum wage based on a 40-hour work week. So $9.75 times two, times 40, is $780 a week minimum being paid on a salary basis. So it affects a whole lot more than just the industry paid by the hour.”

Durham says some employers try to get around paying a salaried person working a 40-hour work-week the annual minimum of $20,280 required by law.

“Home health care for example. There’s a lot of assisted living homes that pay their employees on a salary basis and that salary basis doesn’t even equal minimum wage in overtime for all hours worked,” said Dunham. “Let's say you work 24 hours shifts seven days a week, and the employer’s paying you $1200 a month I’m sorry, that’s not nearly enough for all those hours.”

Dunham says the state respects the position employees may be in with an employer who seems unaware of, or unwilling, to make the required change. And, he says, they can help.

Y’know, many of them are afraid of getting fired if it might be only sub-minimum wage, it might be all they've got,” said Dunham. “We've got ways of contacting the employer without directly putting the jeopardy on the employee. So we’re not going to kick the door down, especially if it’s going to cost somebody their job, y’know.

People can contact Wage and Hour offices in Fairbanks, Wasilla, or Juneau, or call the Anchorage office at 269-4900 for more information or assistance. Or, to visit their website, you can google “Alaska wage and hour.”

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