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Wage Watch: NFL cheerleaders get a raise; Nebraska considers wage hike

he Oakland Raiders Cheerleadershe Oakland Raiders Cheerleaders
The Oakland Raiders cheerleaders Thearon W. Henderson—Getty Images

“Give me a M-I-N-I-M-U-M W-A-G-E!” Oakland Raiders’ cheerleaders get a pay bump.

It turns out NFL cheerleaders can flex their litigious muscles just as well as they can wave those flashy pompoms. In January, a Raiderette who goes by Lacy T. filed a class action suit against the Oakland Raiders, claiming that she and her fellow cheerleaders were paid less than the minimum wage. Her lawsuit launched a slew of similar claims against other NFL teams; the Cincinnati Bengals, the Buffalo Bills, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the New York Jets all became subject to lawsuits over poor pay.

The running score in that lawsuit: Lacy T.—1, Raiders—0, following the team’s announcement that this coming NFL season—for the first time ever—its cheerleading squad will earn California’s minimum wage: $9 an hour.

But the battle’s not over yet. There are other outstanding claims from Lacy T.’s lawsuit that will be addressed in arbitration in mid-July, such as potential back pay for the cheerleaders and the requirement that the Raiderettes pay for out-of-pocket expenses like hair and makeup.

Cornhuskers consider a higher minimum wage

The last time Nebraskans received a minimum wage raise was in 2009. Since then, the minimum hourly rate has been stuck at the federally mandated $7.25 an hour.

That could finally change come November, if petition organizers collect enough signatures to put the minimum wage issue on the ballot. Representatives from the group Nebraskans for Better Wages said this week that they’d surpassed the 81,000-signature threshold prior to Thursday’s deadline.

Petitioners have been working since mid-May to do what the state legislature could not: raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 per hour in 2015 and $9 in 2016. In January, a group of state senators introduced a bill aimed at helping working families that would have gradually raised the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2016, but it died in the legislature earlier this year.

Nebraska is one of 19 states that currently abide by the federal minimum wage of $7.25. There are 21 states that pay a higher amount, including Nebraska border states Colorado and Missouri, whose minimum wage workers earn $8 and $7.50, respectively.

Wisconsin Governor Walker faces two foes: his opponent and a wage hike

Local organizers in Wisconsin are hoping that a referendum to raise the state’s minimum wage will pull double duty. If it garners enough votes in November, the ballot initiative will raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. And it have could achieve the dual affect of drawing Democrats to the polls, which means trouble for Republican Governor Scott Walker, who’s up for reelection in November.

Walker, who doesn’t support the wage hike, is entrenched in a close battle with Democratic challenger Mary Burke, who’s in favor of the increase. Wisconsin Democrats proposed a bill earlier this year to increase the state’s minimum hourly rate to $10.10, but it has failed to gain support in the Republican-controlled legislature.

At mid-year mark, D.C. and California minimum wage hikes become law

Minimum wage workers in Washington, D.C. and California will have more than just independence to celebrate this weekend. As 2014 hit its mid-way point this week, workers in both areas got a raise. In D.C., the minimum wage jumped from $8.20 to $9.25, an increase that was part of legislation that Mayor Vince Gray signed in January that will ultimately boost the rate to $11.25. And Californians got their first minimum wage increase since 2008. The hourly rate inched up by a dollar to $9 as dictated by a law Governor Jerry Brown signed in September 2013. The state’s minimum wage is set to reach $10 by 2016.