By Alex Lloyd Gross
The Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25 per hour. It has been frozen at this rate for almost 10 years. When grass roots efforts started to ask for a $15.00 minimum wage, people scoffed at them. “$15.00 to flip burgers and get the order wrong”? That seemed to be a popular sentiment. Business organizations were happy to hear this and even fed into it. After all, the largest cost of any business is labor. However, people are not laughing so much at the idea of a $15.00 Federal Minimum Wage anymore. Many states have raised their wages on their own and it makes anyone opposed to it look like a bunch of robber barons.
With Doug Jones winning the senate seat in Alabama, and democrats taking over the house and senate, one lobbyist, Rick Berman, from Berman and Company wants to formulate a plan to stop any increase. Mike Saltsman , Managing Director of Employment Policies Institute for the Berman Group wants to see the wage stay the same. “It hurts people that work for the minimum wage to raise it, because the amount of jobs decreases.,” he said. Saltsman pointed out to a study done in Seattle that shows workers hours cut after the wage shot up to $15.00.
This lobbying group is so adamant about stopping this ,that they are starting to spin that angle. in a memo leaked online from Rick Berman, he admitted that most of the population does not care about the fact that the poorest workers are starting to be paid more. They support it. That is why The Berman Group is going to start trotting out horror stories of people that are not making money in spike of a higher wage. “There will be increased automation and we are trying to stop that,” Saltsman said. Automation is taking place regardless of what the wage is. They are looking for funding for their campaign.
There will always need to be people working especially in the event the computer goes down. If that happens and there is no human back up, the business will close. The stigma of someone working for $7.25 conjures up images of a high school kid working after school. That’s not always the case. Go explore a store, or a mall during the weekday. Then go to a fast food place during the weekday. Not too many high schoolers are working. That is because the demographic of people working part time has shifted dramatically. Now they are adults, working part time ( or full time) when their company went under, or maybe they are trying to get extra money to make ends meet.
According to Saltsman, a high school drop out is not likely to find employment when the wage goes too high. He is correct. If you own a business, and you have someone that “can’t speak hardly good English”, apply for a job, would you hire them to be the front line of your business, if the next in line to be interviewed was eloquent, had a good demeanor, who gets the job?
According to Saltsman, businesses do give raises and he is correct. However, a business based on a profit model is going to give minimal raises of 10 cents to 25 cents to their minimum wage staff, no matter how good they are. The reason is, they want to protect profits. It is not uncommon to see people working for $7.75 per hour and their employer justifies it as “paying above the minimum wage”. Middle management in that same company get substantial raises. There has been no cost of living adjustment for the Federal Minimum Wage.
Using a public relations campaign to include social media, is something the Berman Group hopes will sway public opinion back into their favor. Currently, the majority of Americans support raising it, and most will deal with a price increase in goods to achieve that. Saltsman thinks that the new tax cuts will help working poor. Many people think he is mistaken. The retail store owner will use that tax break money for new capitol improvements to the store. Not to pay employees more. Basically, if you work at a store, they have determined selling floor staff will make about $8,25 per hour for example. Managers may get a bit more. For a franchise operation such as McDonalds, who is vehemently opposed to raising the minimum wage, front line staff will get the same $8.25 ( for example), while the franchise owner will pocket six figures a year in pay, but cry that they are broke.
In the near future, when the debate is on to raise the Federal Minimum Wage, expect a social media campaign and spam bots infiltrating news feeds. You can also expect Fake News sites to be launched, which will tout horror stories of raising the wage. Locally, Pennsylvania is a regressive state with legislators that do nothing about raising their State Minimum Wage.It remains at $7.25 . Delaware is $8.50 and effective January 1, 2018 New Jersey will raise their wage to $8.60 per hour. It should be noted that that Pennsylvania lawmakers have done nothing for people working for minimum wage while their own pay goes up for a cost of living increase in January of next year.
President Donald Trump is on record saying that he would not oppose raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.00 per hour. His first choice for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder was forced to withdraw his name for the position when public opinion slammed him on this issue. Puzder wanted only a very small increase. Opponents, such as Saltsman argue that the wage was not meant to support families. On the contrary, When it was put into effect by President Roosevelt, that was exactly the intent. With many manufacturing jobs going overseas, a good many adults are working two and sometimes three part time jobs to make ends meet.
The bottom line is in order to maximize profits, there are some companies that refuse to pay over $8.00 or $9.00 an hour unless they are made to. The Berman Group wants to keep it that way. Workers who’s lives are affected, want a change.