On Monday morning, Sen. Sherrod Brown held a news conference to promote the passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 at the Yankee Kitchen Restaurant in Boardman.
Brown is co-sponsor of the act that will raise federal minimum wage from $7.85 to $10.10 by 2015. The raise would occur in three steps of 95 cents, seeing increases every year.
More than 30 million workers would experience a pay raise.
“If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be worth approximately $10.56 per hour today,” Brown said in Monday’s press release.
Phil Raptis and Eli Raptis, owners of Yankee Kitchen, asked their competitors to support the bill by raising wages for employees.
Yankee Kitchen already pays their workers more than minimum wage and has employed four people for more than 20 years.
“If I paid my employees minimum wage, I wouldn’t be able to keep anybody,” Eli Raptis said.
Brown said the new bill has the potential to impact students from Youngstown State University and other colleges in the area.
“Students are trying to work two jobs while attending college. Raising minimum wage will help them save some money,” Brown said. “Minimum wage really hasn’t gone up in six years.”
A family of three living off minimum wage makes $15,000 a year, which is $3,000 below the poverty line. Under Brown’s bill, the same family would make $21,000 a year and be above the poverty line.
Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, said he believes raising minimum wage is bad for policy and will result in higher rates of unemployment.
“There are already outrageous rates of unemployment, especially regarding blacks and minorities. Raising the price makes it harder for those groups to find jobs,” Munroe said.
Munroe said that most people in America are paid much more than minimum wage. He stressed that if the entry level is set too high, employers will find it harder to justify hiring workers without training.
“The unfortunate side effect to institute the raise to $10.10 will cause employers to lay off workers and restrain from hiring new people,” Munroe said. “Youths need to find opportunities where they can get experience. Employers won’t take risks and employ workers if minimum wage is too high.”
Brown said he believes most businesses want to pay people better and that large companies don’t base hiring on the dollar amount.
“They base hiring on how many workers they need to serve companies,” Brown said.
He said he believes the bill will be a “tough sell” in Washington, but “we’re going to make the fight.”