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Brown calls for minimum wage increase

Published: Tue, March 26, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Jamison Cocklin



Phil Raptis, co-owner of the Yankee Kitchen, attributes the restaurant’s 28-year legacy to good employees, many of whom have worked there for more than a decade.

“They have to raise a family and pay bills; why wouldn’t I pay them more than minimum wage?” Raptis said. “I wouldn’t be able to keep them here if not. It would be to somebody else’s benefit because my workers would go away to get more money.”

Raptis, along with his son, Eli Raptis, invited U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, to the Market Street eatery Monday, as the senator kicked off a two-week congressional recess by drumming up support for the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.

The bill, which Brown is co-sponsoring along with a bevy of other Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate, was introduced earlier this month. It seeks to raise the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 to $10.10 by providing for automatic annual adjustments based on changes in the cost of living over the next three years.

If passed, the act also would gradually raise wages for tipped workers to 70 percent of the minimum wage.

“If you raise minimum wage, it will mean more employment because there will be more money spent in the community,” Brown told a room of reporters and Yankee Kitchen customers Monday. “It means workers are taking that money — they’re not investing it — they’re spending it on school clothes, coming out and eating at places like the Yankee Kitchen; they’re spending on making and generating economic activity.”

Brown said there is no real evidence that raising the federal wage floor discourages hiring. According to his estimate, a bump in the minimum wage would add $30 billion to U.S. gross domestic product.

Brown added that the 1.3 million Ohioans working for minimum wage would stand to benefit from the legislation.

But Ohio’s minimum wage already is above the federal level, at $7.85 an hour. It is linked to inflation under a state constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2006, which calls for annual increases — one reason the bill’s critics here say an increase would be burdensome for the state’s employers.

“We’re concerned about anything that’s going to make it more challenging for people to hire individuals,” said Greg Lawson, a policy analyst at the Buckeye Institute, a conservative think tank. “An increase in the minimum wage would be problematic with health care costs increasing from the Affordable Care Act. If those things come together, it would not be good for employers.”

An estimated 3.6 million people were paid hourly rates at or below the federal minimum in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The federal minimum wage works out to about $15,000 annually.

Brown acknowledged Monday that passing the legislation would be a difficult task given the level of brinkmanship and partisan wrangling playing out in Washington.

The last time Congress approved an increase in the minimum wage was in 2007.

“It’s a tough sell; you’ve got a lot of special-interest groups — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, oil companies, drug companies and the banks — saying they don’t want to do it,” Brown said. “We were able to do it with a Republican president in 2007, and I think we can do it with a Republican House in 2013.”


1ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Brown thinks that the money needed to pay the higher wages will just materialize out of thin air. Maybe because so much of the fed's money comes from nothing he thinks all of our money just "appears" on demand. His knowledge of economics is exceptionally poor.

There is no law mandating that any business pay the minimum wage. They can pay more if they choose. There is no law mandating that anyone take a minimum wage job. The sad truth though is that there are a lot of people out there who are so skill poor that they are not worth more than the minimum wage. And some aren't even worth that!

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2commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Raptis said it all---if HE didn't pay more the people would look for other jobs that pay more. If they didn't do a good job for him he would get rid of them NOT pay more. Not sure why Raptis had Brown there since he pays more then minimum wages. If Brown's proposal passes will Raptis pay MORE then the $10.10??
The two things this bill will do is:
1- Raise prices at the places required to raise their minimim wages
2- Loose jobs if the proposal passes OR cut hours.
It makes you wonder if the politicians are REALLY for the ALL of the people or just a select few.

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