The leader of a group fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour revealed she actually wants an increase that goes much higher, according to a video released Wednesday.
The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) has done a lot to advocate for the $15 minimum wage. It is one of many union-funded groups that has pushed for the policy both locally and nationally. ROC Founder Saru Jayaraman told a small group April 28 in North Carolina that $15 is not enough, and advocates should be looking to go much higher.
“If you are taking into account child care and transportation and everything that people need to live,” Jayaraman said in the video, which was provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “You are talking much higher $17, $21. So $15 is not a livable wage and I don’t think anyone, I hope no one is claiming that it is. I wouldn’t think that it is even here in North Carolina.”
Jayaraman added that she determined the higher increase from a wage calculator on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website. The video was first uncovered by the conservative opposition research group America Rising Squared, which has been highly critical of how advocates push for the $15 minimum wage.
ROC has organized protests and dispatched local affiliates to advocate for the $15 minimum wage. It claims to be an industry support group but is highly funded by the AFL-CIO. Labor unions have utilized front-groups to make policy pushes look like grassroots movement. The Fight for $15, for instance, is highly funded by the Service Employees International Union.
California became the first state April 4 to raise its minimum wages to $15 an hour, beating New York by just a couple hours. Advocates have also seen victories on the city level starting with Seattle in June 2014. ROC has praised lawmakers who fought in favor of the increase.
ROC also released studies claiming minimum wage increases do not have a negative impact on businesses. Those in support argue the minimum wage increase could help lift people out of poverty, but critics warn it could actually hurt the very people it’s supposed to help. Employers could be forced to cutback on their workforce or raise prices to overcome the added cost of labor.
The true impact of the $15 minimum wage will not be felt right away since the measure was written to increase overtime. Some businesses already reported they will have to leave high minimum wage states because of the increase. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found any increase in the minimum wage could result in at least some job loss.
ROC did not respond to a request for additional comment.
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