Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's not that simple to raise a Minimum Wage...there are Consequences

In this city, where a century ago workers staged one of America's greatest industrial strikes, people again are arguing about a living wage — but not the minimum wage bill President Obama proposed in his State of the Union message. 
Massachusetts has its own minimum: 75 cents above the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. And now the state Legislature is considering whether to raise the minimum wage over the next three years to $11, which would be among the highest in the nation.
With legislative stalemate in Washington and increasing concern nationwide over income inequality, the minimum wage fight is shifting to states such as Massachusetts, which in 1912 became the first to enact minimum wage legislation 
Lawrence, the site in that year of the epic "Bread and Roses'' textile strike, is today the state's poorest city. Nearly three-quarters of its 76,000 residents are Hispanic, and more than a third are foreign-born.
With many small businesses and about 9,500 hourly workers in the region who make between $8 and $10.50, according to an analysis by an advocacy group, Lawrence illustrates what's at stake in the wage debate. 
George Bonfiglio and his wife, Sheila, own the Three Dogz Diner, which overlooks the Great Stone Dam, built between 1845 and 1848. The dam and its canals produced the power that helped make Lawrence's mills the world's greatest source of worsted wool — 2 million yards a week.
George and Sheila Bonfiglio, owners of the Three Dogz Diner 
in Lawrence, Mass., say that if the state minimum wage 
goes up, they would have to lay off workers or cut hours
He's a former union carpenter sidelined by the recession. She used to work for a bank. Four years ago, they started the restaurant, Sheila says, because "we figured people always have to eat.'' Around here, that often means "chicken barb'' — seasoned pulled turkey and chicken with lettuce and mayo on a grilled roll. 
George, 60, says a raise in the minimum wage would force them to reduce their three employees' hours, or worse — "shut this place down and just do takeout.'' Thinking about it makes him mad: "It's going to end up hurting the people it's supposed to help.''
Read the rest of the story HERE and view the Interactive 2014 minimum wage, state by state below.

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