The Texas Lotters Association, which owns the state’s three biggest state lottery sites, announced Friday that it won’t be paying its workers a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour, a move that could further complicate the state government’s effort to keep up with rising health care costs.
The decision by the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that regulates union contracts, comes in the wake of a string of state-level victories by unions in recent years, including a $15 minimum wage in New Mexico and a $10 minimum wage for tipped workers in California.
But workers at all three sites, including Texas, will still receive a wage that is above the minimum wage they are paid under the Texas law.
The move is an effort to protect employees, said Scott Hochberg, president of the Texas Association of Lottery Directors.
“The union is a non-essential player in our economy,” Hochburg said.
“But our members do get paid a wage.”
The move follows a similar decision by a New York City-based collective bargaining agreement, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), that struck a deal to collectively bargain for a $12.25 hourly minimum wage, a wage workers at its sites in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island are eligible for.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to reach an agreement that ensures all workers, regardless of location, are treated equally,” UFCW President James P. Hoffa said in a statement.
“It is our hope that this agreement will provide workers a fair opportunity to earn their rightful pay.”
The union has said that the state should pay its workers $15 per hour.
“There is no other way to make sure the workers are protected,” said Dana Eveland, executive director of the California-based National Labor Council.
“They are employees of the state and they should not be paying a lower minimum wage than the state does.”
The Texas minimum wage is set to increase to $10.10 on January 1, 2019, and will be indexed for inflation in 2021, according to the state Department of Revenue.
The state also announced earlier this year that it would be cutting $50 million from its budget, which covers everything from education and housing to health care.
The Texas budget was already cut by more than $1 billion in the past three years as a result of the health care overhaul and a new state budget, but the cuts have been reversed.
“If we are going to have a fair playing field, we have to be fair to all,” Hocherberg said.