Minimum wage could reach $9.80 by 2015 in U.S.

    9:50 PM, Aug 2, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- This week, California representative George Miller introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012, asking congress to increase federal minimum wage and keep up with inflation.

    Right now, Arkansas' minimum wage is sitting at $6.25 and has been since 2006. However, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 takes precedent and while some may say more pay is good, those most affected have a different opinion.

    It's the mid-day slump at Dugan's Pub but for veteran server Ashlee Schafer, even the slow times are good times.

    "Honestly, I make more money than some of my friends who have college degrees and it's better hours. I like the people, I like being active. Having a desk job and sitting at a desk all day would make me absolutely crazy," says Schafer.

    "A lot of them work four days a week and make well above anything close to minimum wage," says owner Don Dugan.

    He says all of his employees, including cooks and dishwashers, make more that what the government requires him to pay.

    "We typically start them above minimum wage, significantly above minimum wage. My logic for that is that I want to keep and maintain great employees and the only way to do that is to make sure they are paid well," says Dugan.

    And paying well is what the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 is asking the government to do. California Representative George Miller (D) who is sponsoring the bill wants to increase the federal minimum wage in three 85-cent steps over three years, from $7.25 an hour to $9.80 an hour, then indexing the rate to inflation every year after that. Those same 85-cent increases also go for tipped workers like Schafer until the pay reaches 70% of minimum wage.

    A drastic increase, Dugan says, that will drastically affect his business.

    "It's not just going to be me. It's for everything that I touch, everything that we get has got increased labor costs attached to it and they are not going to absorb it. They are going to pass it on to the consumer which would be me," says Dugan.

    While she may see more money on her paycheck, Schafer says she may end up seeing less in her pocketbook.

    "If people know we're making $7.00 an hour, 7-plus dollars an hour, they are going to be less likely to tip as much as they do and that's how we make our real money. It's not from our paychecks," says Schafer.

    Senator John Boozman released a statement about his stance on the Fair Minimum Wage proposal.

    "Changes to Arkansas minimum wage requirements should come from Little Rock instead of Washington. We don't need California and Connecticut congressmen applying their standards in Arkansas. Our state policies put us at a comparative advantage for economic development and we need to maintain that position. We must put our country on the road to fiscal responsibility and expand opportunities for businesses before crafting new federal wage mandates."

    Senator Boozman's office tells us because the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 has just been introduced this week, they do not expect a decision before the November election. However, they say it will be at the top of list when legislators meet next year.

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