A lawsuit filed in April against the state of Alabama for blocking Birmingham’s minimum wage increase expanded Thursday with the filing of an amended complaint that includes additional plaintiffs and defendants and a new claim that the bill signed by Gov. Robert Bentley nullifying the pay hike violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Alabama Legislative Black Caucus, nine black Alabama state legislators and Birmingham’s first black mayor, Richard Arrington, added their names to a suit initially brought by fast-food workers, the Alabama NAACP and Greater Birmingham Ministries charging the state acted illegally when it blocked a wage hike for the city’s predominantly black workforce to $10.10.
“Legislators filing suit against actions taken by fellow legislators isn’t something you see every day, and it isn’t something we take lightly,” said Rep. John Rogers, one of the new plaintiffs. “But when colleagues’ take racist actions that strip black Alabama residents of their political power, we cannot remain silent. It’s unfortunate that the only way to protect the will of voters is to file a lawsuit against your colleagues, but sadly, in Alabama, that’s the case. Alabama’s longstanding policy of enlisting state government to suppress local black majorities for the benefit of white wealth cannot be allowed to continue.”