Some Employers and Republicans Want to Lower the Minimum Wage -- Here's Why They're Completely Out of Touch
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
If you've been on Facebook this week, you've probably seen the Chris Rock quote making the rounds:
"I used to work at McDonald's making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss is trying to say? It's like, 'Hey, [if] I could pay you less, I would, but it's against the law.'"
Now it seems that some minimum wage employers are trying to pay their workers less -- and to even make it legal to do so. It seems unfathomable that anyone would consider the minimum wage -- which, for a full-time worker, provides a yearly salary that is thousands of dollars below the poverty line for a family of three or four -- to be too high. But in Arizona, Republican legislators are pushing a bill that would allow employers to pay teenagers working part-time a full three dollars per hour less than the state minimum wage, which works out to a mere $4.65 per hour.
And the Florida legislature is considering lowering the state minimum wage for tipped employees by more than half, from the current $4.65 per hour to the federal minimum of $2.13. OSI Partners, the company that owns Outback Steakhouse, supports the legislation. Given the current political discourse on how best to create good jobs and help struggling families, OSI's involvement is especially noteworthy since the firm is owned by Bain Capital, the company that Mitt Romney co-founded and in which the Republican presidential nominee still has tens of millions invested.
The federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour, has been raised only three times over the last 30 years. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the last few decades, it would now be $10.55 per hour -- arguably still not enough to support a family, but a marked improvement from where it is presently.
Luckily, despite the fact that some Republicans think the minimum wage is still too high for some workers, there are many, many folks who support a substantial wage increase. One of these folks is Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, who in March introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to $9.80 over two and a half years and peg it to inflation -- a move supported by over two-thirds of voters. Hundreds of economists, including several Nobel Prize winners, have spoken out in favor of raising the minimum wage, along with large employers like Costco and business organizations like the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce that recognize that higher wages are good for workers, employers, and the economy.
Unfortunately, this overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage does not extend to most of corporate America, which has a tendency to prize the short-term bottom line above all other considerations, including the ability of its workers to make ends meet. The anti-minimum wage gang will "twist itself into knots rationalizing a corporate-backed agenda," John Stoehr observes in The American Prospect. And there is no question that those opposed to raising the minimum wage will prey upon our fears of joblessness and the bad economy to try to convince us that the minimum wage needs to stay where it is.
Corporate lobbyists are busy spreading distortions and outright lies in their attempt to hold back minimum wage increases supported by the vast majority of working people. Here are some of the biggest falsehoods that are going around, along with facts you can use to discredit them (with many thanks to raisetheminimumwage.org for providing much of this information):