State Minimum Wage Increases Still Lagging

Kristopher Fraser, Staff Writer

President Obama spoke about raising the minimum wage for all federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour in his 2014 State of the Union address, a change that could have a great impact for a small town like Oberlin.

Yet in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Governor John Kasich voiced his skepticism regarding a minimum wage hike.

“Look, we want everybody to make more money. I’ll tell you how people are going to make more money: get better education. That’s the key to this great divide that we have,” said Kasich.

Krista Long, owner of Ben Franklin’s, expressed that while she is in favor of an increase in minimum wage, she does not believe it should be granted to everyone.

“With a big jump in my wages like that, I would be looking at adults and older people who can work longer hours and more flexible schedules, instead of young people just working part-time, although there are young people working to support their families,” explained Long. “It’s a shame, because I do think young people should have [part-time] jobs.”

While some politicians believe that a $10.10 minimum wage is the first step in ameliorating issues of income inequality, others contend that federal minimum wage laws are actually hurting job creation, and instead hold that wages should be determined by employers.

Across states, the variety of legislation pertaining to the minimum wage suggests a divide throughout the nation. While Governor Jerry Brown of California has been applauded for signing legislation guaranteeing the highest state minimum wage in the country at $10 an hour, other politicians such as Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota assert that “abolishing minimum wage would create jobs.”

But Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has declared his support for raising the minimum wage in the state.

“People shouldn’t have to rely on a customer to get decent pay for the job they’re doing,” said Brown in an interview with WBNS-TV10. “There are people who work hard. It’s valets. It’s people working [as] servers in restaurants. It’s people who work in hotels.”

College senior William Quick works as a desk attendant at Wilder Hall’s student union and has stated that even with of a salary of $8.45 an hour, he is still faced with financial challenges.

“I’m looking for a second job, because with my current job alone, [it] does not make it possible for me to save up to start my life after graduation or do any of the things I actually need to do,” said Quick.

However, Quick admitted that even if the minimum wage were increased to $15 an hour, it should not be for the purpose of serving students like him.

“A $15-an-hour minimum wage should not be serving students working part-time at college; it should be serving people like janitors and those doing ‘get your hands dirty’ work that students here wouldn’t even dream of doing,” he said. “People don’t realize how essential those working-class jobs are.”

Unlike Quick, College junior Kendra Farrakhan, an employee at Campus Dining Services in Dascomb Dining Hall, does not believe that a $10.10 minimum wage would benefit her.

“My job is already one of the highest-paid jobs on campus and I already make over $9 an hour,” Farrakhan said. “I don’t see an extra dollar making a huge difference, but for those other campus employees who make below that, for them I could see it making a big difference.”

While politicians and Obies have yet to come to a consensus in the debate on minimum wage, the conversation will persist in the wake of the upcoming 2014 midterm elections.