Throughout Labor Day, labor unions and the Obama administration made a major push to increase the minimum wage.
A major part of the Democratic strategy for the midterm elections, President Barack Obama made his own contribution with a speech in Milwaukee hosted by the AFL-CIO.
The president was also accompanied by Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and several labor officials including Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
“There is no denying the simple truth: America deserves a raise,” the president declared to the crowd.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also promoted a minimum wage increase this Labor Day, proposing a gradual rise from $9.00 an hour to $13.25 an hour by 2017 in his city, according to USA Today.
In his speech, while being surrounded by labor leaders, Garcetti said “it’s deplorable and bad for our economy to have one million Angelenos stuck in poverty, even when working full time.”
Garcetti’s proposal would make Los Angeles’ minimum wage among the highest in the country, but it still needs city council approval to become law.
The California Hotel and Lodging Association issued a statement calling Garcetti’s plan “troubling” and that hotels are already “setting a standard when it comes to high-paying jobs, particularly for entry-level positions.”
Michigan was already seeing a minimum wage increase this Labor Day as the state’s minimum wage of $7.40 per hour went up to $8.15 per hour according to CBS Detroit.
Yannet Lathrop, who works for the Michigan League for Public Policy, saw the increase as not going far enough.
“It’s just not going to be enough,” Lathrop declared. “There’s a lot more work that needs to be done on raising wages to make them more of a living wage.”
Diane Brandt, executive director of the West Allis/West Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce, said she did support rising the minimum wage but cautioned people of the impact such increases will have.
“We have to understand what it’s going to do to businesses and the economy as a whole,” Brandt told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Brandt added, “You go to McDonald’s now and a cheeseburger is a dollar, but if we raise the minimum wage and a cheeseburger goes up to $4, people aren’t going to be going to McDonald’s as often as they were.”
State and local minimum wage increases are more likely to become law than a federal increase, but Democrats and unions are going to try to keep the issue in the news through November.
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