Should lawmakers raise the minimum wage? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Should lawmakers raise the minimum wage?

November 21, 2006

Albany--  Some potentially good news for minimum wage workers across the nation. Democratic lawmakers are making it their priority to up the hourly wage that has been in place for nearly ten years. That's good news for the workers, but it could put a pinch on their employers.    

For the last four years, Taenedrah Ealey has found joy in getting Maryland's Fried Chicken out to Georgia customers. She loves it.

"The people, they're so friendly," said Ealey. But she admits the pay isn't the friendliest to her pockets.

"It makes it pretty hard because you know you're a student and the price of gas is going up. It seems like everything else is going up except what we're getting paid," said Ealey. So it's safe to say, Ealey would not be against a raise any time soon.

There's good news for her and other hourly employees.  Some lawmakers are proposing raising the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour. "Oh, I'm all for that," laughs Ealey. She's all for it but it's not so much a laughing situation for her employer.

"That's a pretty big jump. For me, I'd like to see it raised but that's a huge increase there," said Maryland's Fried Chicken Owner Richard King. King has 20 employees.  He's all for them getting a pay boost but it would definitely affect the way he does business.

"I might have to cut. You have to look at all the factors. I may have to raise prices," said King. But on a positive note, he feels it would be great for the economy and he'll make sacrifices to get his employees on higher ground.

"Whatever it takes to get them more money, I'm all for it. I like the trickle up effect rather than the trickle down effect," said King. A significant pay raise like the one being proposed will make a huge difference for Ealey's attitude, especially on pay day.

"I'd go home from like this (sad face) to this (big smile)," joked Ealey. More money is always welcome, just like her friendly customers but the extra cash is something she's not willing to box up and pass along.

It's proposed that the raise be phased in over two years. That way employers would have time to adjust to the new pay scale. Incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi she'll make sure the House begins work on the raise in the first 100 hours of the next Congressional session.

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