Mar 22, 2013

Secretary of Labor Visits the Urban League

Great article by WCPO's Casey Weldon on the visit to the Urban League to discuss increasing the minimum wage.  Below is Ms. Weldon's article at WCPO Digital and a link to their website for a great video piece on the Secretary's visit.

By: Casey Weldon, WCPO Digital
CINCINNATI – Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris was joined by Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory at a roundtable discussion Wednesday to discuss President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise the national minimum wage.
The meeting at the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati on Reading Road allowed low-wage workers and advocates to share their thoughts about how a minimum wage increase would benefit them, their families and their communities.
The minimum wage rate in Ohio is currently $7.85 an hour or about $16,000 a year for a full-time worker. The rate is $7.25 an hour for those employers grossing $283,000 or less.
In Kentucky and Indiana the rate is $7.25.
“A lot of times things go unpaid because you have to eat, have to make sure you get to work and get your kid to school,” said Heather Quick, a mother who earns minimum wage and is trying to provide for her 5-year-old son, Gage.
Quick works part time at a local store but says the business has made recent cutbacks which have cut into her hours even more.
President Obama wants the national rate to be $9 an hour by 2015 to help ensure that hard work leads to a decent living, according to Sec. Harris. The White House said last month that raising the minimum wage would boost earnings for 15 million workers by the end of 2015.
“The president said it's an outrage that people are working full time and still living in poverty,” said Sec. Harris. “I think a large majority of Americans agree with that and they'd like to see minimum wage increase.”
Quick says she doesn't want the wage increase to help her get ahead. She just wants to stay afloat.
“I would have more money to do things that are a necessity. Not things that I want, but things that I need and that my son needs.”
Many small business owners worry that a hike in the minimum wage rate could affect their profits, which would cause them to raise prices for the services and goods they provide.
The proposal to change the rate is still pending. It still needs to be approved by Congress.
You can join the conversation on Twitter by following the United States Department of Labor (@USDOL) and Sec. Harris (@ActingSecHarris).

9 On Your Side reporter Mekialaya White contributed to this report.