Labor Committee considers raising min. wage - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Labor Committee considers raising min. wage

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By Bob Schaper - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) - The assembly labor committee considers raising the state's minimum wage.

 If the bill becomes law general workers would get a bump to $7.60 an hour; minors would get $6.90; tipped workers, like waiters, $2.75; and agricultural workers would be paid $6.05 or $4.95, depending on their age.

Delora Newton, from the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, says the wage increase itself may not be wise during a fledgling recovery. But a bigger problem is the new provision that would automatically adjust the minimum wage every year based on the national consumer price index.

"We feel that to index the state's minimum wage based on metropolitan areas across the country that might be doing better or worse than we are isn't a true economic indicator of what's going on here," she said.

The law, which was narrowly passed in the Senate and given a hearing in the Assembly today, would also let cities, towns, villages and counties set their own minimum wage.

Newton said, "We view that as a problem because it creates an economic island."

But a top union official disagrees.

"Wisconsin is a state of many different local communities. What might work in one part of the community, in an urban area, or a rural area, may not work in another," said Phil Neuenfeldt, secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. "This would allow people to have more local input into this issue."

And he says annual raises are important too.

"Because then workers at that wage level would be allowed to at least have their wages increased to keep pace with the cost of living."

As for the general concerns that higher minimum wages are tough on businesses, Neuenfeldt said that didn't worry him.

"When minimum wage was 50 cents an hour they had the same argument." 

 

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