Minimum Wage Increases Face A New Challenge From Coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted business groups to fight mandated increases to the minimum wage. But they're facing resistance from unions, who say workers need a raise now more than ever.

7/1/2020 10:46:00 AM

Low-wage workers fought hard to win higher minimum wages in recent years, but businesses are arguing the increases should be delayed to help them recover from pandemic shutdowns. Workers say that's unacceptable after their front-line efforts. wamu885

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted business groups to fight mandated increases to the minimum wage. But they're facing resistance from unions, who say workers need a raise now more than ever.

Velma Conrelius, left, and Zelma Kinchloe protest for higher wages outside a McDonalds restaurant in Detroit Thursday, May 15, 2014.Paul Sancya/AP Phototoggle captionPaul Sancya/AP PhotoAdvocates who fought for a $15 minimum wage couldn't have predicted a threat like the coronavirus.

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Within weeks of winning Virginia's first wage increase in 11 years — a raise to $9.50 from the current $7.25 in January, then potentially to $15 in 2026 — progressive Democrats and labor unions watched their victory take a blowto ease pressure on businesses harmed by the pandemic.

In Maryland, statewide business closures were quickly followed bystate lawmakers approved in 2019, prompting the state's"Fight for $15" coalition to resume a battle advocates thought they'd won. Currently, Maryland's wage is $11, set to reach $15 for all employers by 2026.

In their latest attempt to freeze wages, business groups have deployed an old argument: thathigher pay leads to job losses. But that tactic has lost support in a time when low-wage employees — who work in health care, grocery stores, warehouses, restaurants and other businesses that have remained open — continue to perform essential services during the health crisis. And in D.C., where the minimum wage will reach $15 this week, base pay continues to fall short of the cost of living.

Business groups say employers need relief from wage increases to recover from the pandemic. But that viewpoint has lost support during a time when low-wage employees have kept the economy running."Hero pay for hero work" has become a rallying cry for labor organizers, who swiftly pounced on efforts by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business to freeze the minimum wage at $11 until 2023.

"Essential workers ... are on the front lines of this pandemic, and the vast majority of them are making under $15 an hour," said Brig Dumais, a political organizer with 1199 SEIU, during a virtual rally the union hosted in June."We cannot call them 'heroes' on one hand and freeze their wages on the other

."The president of the NAACP's Baltimore chapter, Rev. Kobi Little, pressed leaders to look for other ways to support struggling businesses."We have to stop using a policy lens that allows us to feel comfortable sacrificing those who are economically insecure and vulnerable for the benefit of those who are economically secure," Little said.

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wamu885 Yes BLM (Being lazy matters), don't you know police brutality is more important than having a job and working hard. wamu885 we're out here fighting over scraps! The top 10% of any race in the US has more than all the other respective 9/10 combined (even if we treat those with negative net worth as 0). Time for class war. Every billionaire is a policy failure directly causing Americans poverty & pain

wamu885 In the late 90s, I walked straight out of high school into a relatively easy office job making $35k. In Missouri. It didn't feel like enough back then, but I was able to rent an apartment, buy a car and pay for college out of pocket. That was just 20 years ago. wamu885 ceo bonuses, need to be stopped and prevented by any tricks to be filtered to workers. period.

wamu885 use that system to LOG the payment and deduct it from an yearly amount every one should be paying from what they making in their tax bracket and you dont need the irs putting people in jail not to pay their taxes donald hasnt paid any taxes in over 2 decades i always pay my taxes wamu885 lets help america help america jamaica has been doing it for years you get your salary taxes come out automatically no matter where you work instead of filing taxes everywherw you shop and it pays that tax that businesses have to pay on the money they collect or they pay a fine

wamu885 The NatlGovsAssoc should excise securitized interests in real property to support development of local commerce and culture and real living wages for local employees. Restructure locally-accountable banking and credit. wamu885 No recovery corporations can be gone! Dont buy or support those bs companys! Underpaid? Well nobody told you to have kids a wife we all have choices yet fighting for bullshit. You are not happy with min then dont work there..not enough to buy the lv or mercedes?😂people are funny

wamu885 and the pie gets smaller. wamu885 The minimum wage should be $25hr. wamu885 The problem is the disparity between small business and corporate. So many small businesses seriously can’t afford higher wages; everyone attacks corporations over employee pay but this issue runs so much deeper specifically corp monopolies getting away with controlling the marke

wamu885 t and stifling competition. Fix campaign finance, and you’ll see results. Growth in small business stems real competition, and individual financial independence, slowly but surely. Honestly this should be non partisan but it’s nooooooot. wamu885 I'm for raising minimum wage, corporate businesses have money and access to capital and can adjust to increase. Small Business might need governments program to help with adjustment

wamu885 Workers won't have jobs if the employers go bankrupt. wamu885 marwilliamson When people don't have money to spend, businesses large and small will fail. The Federal Reserve Chairman warned Congress specificslly about this. Congress is unable to do anything because Mitch McConnell won't act & is willing to crash the US economy.

wamu885 Businesses are literally only thinking about exec compensation wamu885 National debt forgiveness for both businesses and individuals. wamu885 Maybe they should get a better job. wamu885 If gov acted yrs ago on raising min wage to a livable wage, large corp's wouldn't be so used to paying people such low unlivable wages. If you can't pay ppl enough so they can provide basic needs, you shouldn't be in business if you're multi billion dollar company.

wamu885 Raising the minimum wage only works to increase unemployment and make it more difficult for low skilled workers to become employed. Usually this means systemic unemployment among minority groups and specifically young workers just entering the workforce. wamu885 Catch 22, again, Americans can’t pay bills with inflated shitty housing, and too big too fail is the highest employer.

wamu885 Most of these large corporations have huge profit margins. They can afford it, always could. Just wanna exploit people. wamu885 wamu885 The mob can't comprehend that. Businesses should have never given in. wamu885 Want a higher wage? Get a better job wamu885

Minimum wage hikes in three states, 21 localities to aid low-paid workers slammed by Covid-19While millions of Americans are losing financial assistance that has kept them afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, several states and 21 localities are partly offsetting the pain with a different kind of lifeline: minimum wage hikes. Who earns the minimum wage, how it’s changed over the years, and how laws differ across states and even cities:

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