Sen. Brown pushes for minimum wage hike PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN/Sentinel County Editor   
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 08:34
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U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, talks to a crowd at Grounds for Thought about legislation to raise the national minimum wage, while business owner Kelly Wicks (left) looks on in Bowling Green Tuesday. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
A Bowling Green single mom, who has two minimum wage jobs, quietly shared her story with a crowd Tuesday.
“I love what I do,” said Carrie Day, who works as a cake decorator, waitress and sells her art on the side. “I don’t make enough money. There are a lot of people like me.”
Day, who has two daughters, spends half of her pay each month on rent. Even with tips and art sales, “I still struggle.”
“I’m not looking for a better job. I just am looking for better pay,” she said. “People like me don’t need a lot to be happy. We just need enough.”
Day joined U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, as he stopped at Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green Tuesday to promote the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which he is co-sponsoring.
The legislation would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.25, in three annual steps of 95 cents each. The act would then provide for automatic annual increases based on the cost of living.
The bill would also gradually increase the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in more than 20 years. Those wages are currently $2.13 an hour, but would be bumped up to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.
The last time the federal minimum wage was increased was in 2007. If the wages had kept up with inflation, they would be at $10.56 today, Brown said. And if they had kept up with productivity, they would be $23 an hour — not something Brown is advocating.
“It has not nearly kept up with inflation,” the senator said. “It keeps people below the poverty level.”
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Carrie Day, who works as a cake decorator, waitress and sells her art on the side, speaks to a crowd at Grounds for Thought.
Brown disputed claims that raising minimum wage would hurt job growth.
“It’s a myth that it costs jobs,” he said. “It will mean the economy will grow.”
He also rejected claims that most workers getting minimum wage are minors.
“It’s not teenagers looking to spend money. They are adults just getting by,” he said, stating that 80 percent of workers making minimum wage are adults.
More than 30 million American workers would get a raise under the bill. Eighteen million children — 23 percent of American children — have parents who will get a raise, according to Brown.
The minimum wage today pays $15,000 per year, which is $3,000 below the poverty level for a family of three. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would boost the minimum wage to $21,000, lifting families above the poverty line.
Brown’s bill was supported Tuesday by Kelly Wicks, the small businessman who owns the coffee shop where Brown spoke. Wicks said he is often asked why he, as a small businessman, backs the minimum wage increase.
“Higher wages are good for productivity. They are good for employee morale,” he said. “They are good for small businesses.”
The reasonable wages can allow workers to be successful and support their communities more, Wicks said.
Before his Bowling Green stop Tuesday, Brown attended a breakfast at Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative near North Baltimore. There he talked about energy and agriculture.
Brown said he supported the “all of the above” energy strategy focused on oil, gas, coal and renewable energy sources of solar, wind, hydro and geothermal. He noted more coal is being mined in Ohio, natural gas is being captured in eastern Ohio, and the nation’s oil imports are at a 25-year low.
The senator said electricity production is no longer at odds with environmental concerns.
“That discussion, of ‘us versus them,’ doesn’t really play anymore,” he said.
In response to questions from the cooperative members, Brown:
• Defended the EPA as doing its job looking out for the environment. It’s Congress’ job to make sure the rules are balanced, he said.
• Explained his vote against the Keystone Pipeline. Almost all the oil from the project will be exported, and will likely result in higher fuel costs in the Midwest.
• Criticized tax breaks and major subsidies for oil companies.
• Said he doesn’t object to fracking as long as it is done safely and landowners are protected.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 09:05
 

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