Local Reaction to Minimum Wage Vote

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Harrison Pirtle
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Updated: 4/30 6:27 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WDEF-TV) - The U.S. Senate Wednesday again blocked efforts to increase the minimum wage.
After much debate and impassioned pleas from some workers, the proposal failed 54-to-42.
The vote was whether to raise the minimum wage from 7.25 to 10-dollars-10 cents in two years.
For many Chattanoogans, the decision on whether to boost the income of those in low-paying jobs, is not an easy one.

ROSABELLE GORMAN, OWNER, BRIX NOUVEAU "I really agree that we aren't paying our minimum wage workers enough. And with my heart I definitely support the bill...and raising the minimum wage. However, theres the reality of being a small business owner and having to deal with the consequences of that."

Almost everyone agrees that 7.25 an hour is not a living wage, yet it's what millions of Americans try to live-on.
There have been numerous nationwide demonstrations urging congress to act.
But at the same time business owners were pointing out it would probably result in lay-offs.

ROSABELLE GORMAN "You're not going to have to raise just your minimum people...but the people in the next few tiers..itsgoing to affect everybody that you pay."

Rosabelle Gorman says she already pays the employees of her north shore restaurant more than minimum wage.

The head of the Hamilton county democratic party was disappointed in the vote.

TERRY LEE, CHAIRMAN, HAMILTON CO. DEMOCRATIC PARTY "Unfortunately too many people today ..What started out as jobs that were for summer ..For kids in highschool or even college ..Now people are trying to support families and its just not possible.'

But Terry Lee says there are other ways to help low-income workers.

TERRY LEE " I think its really important that we increase the employability of those people. You give them vocational training ..Give them on the job training ..We increase their skills ..So that companies can afford to pay them more."

ROSABELLE GORMAN " I think if the government is going to impose a needed minimum wage increase that they should also compensate small businesses by a graduated tax credit to help us get through this." "I still I pay more in taxes than I pay in wages."

The senate vote was 54-42 against passage.
That means many democrats also voted against it.
Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander issued a statement saying that not only would it destroy 500,000 jobs, it would concentrate most of the benefits on those above the poverty line.




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