Workers Agree: Minimum Wage Should Be Raised With AM-Minimum Wage Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ From Rockefeller Center to Corn Dog on a Stick, from Yakima, Wash., to Chattanooga, Tenn., the workers in minimum-wage jobs have the same message for President Bush: $3.35 an hour is not enough.
″That’s why New York City has so many homeless: People work hard and they can’t even afford the rent,″ said Amy Hanne, 27, of Brooklyn, a Rockefeller Center security guard in Manhattan.
Patricia Zaradic, manager of Corn Dog on a Stick at the Nittany Mall in State College, Pa., about five miles east of Penn State University’s main campus, said, ″It’s places like this that raising the minimum wage would be a big help to a lot of people.″
Ms. Hanne and Ms. Zaradic were among workers and managers queried by The Associated Press after Bush’s veto of a measure to raise the current $3.35 hourly minimum to $4.55. The House failed to override the veto Wednesday.
Mike Farr, assistant manager of the Off the Record record store in Yakima, said that although he makes more than the minimum wage an increase would be ″significant for me. I think it would make the manager have to move me up to maybe 55 cents over what I’m making now.″
Washington is one of several states where the minimum is already higher than the federal law. Washington’s is $3.85, and employees at the record store start at $4.
In states such as Washington, Maine and Massachusetts, the AP survey turned up few establishments that said they were paying the minimum wage.
In Boston, restaurants are advertising for employees at $6 or $7 an hour and dishwashers in Chinatown start at $5, according to a restaurant owner.
In Chattanooga, however, Linda Gilliam, 43, a grandmother who works at a Krystal fast-food restaurant and recently got a 10-cent raise to $4.10 an hour, said, ″You get these ladies that don’t have a good education who come in and they’re divorced and have children. Three-thirty-five an hour. Then they have to go on welfare or food stamps to help with that, and that’s pitiful.″
Raymond Alian, who owns and manages an Oklahoma City taco restaurant, said he was glad Bush vetoed the bill.
″It would be the people that would hurt, the whole country,″ Alian said. ″This cost is going to be passed on to the people.″
Alian said he pays his employees $3.50 an hour.
Jamie Arndt, 21, a University of Minnesota student, said a raise of $1.20 an hour ″would make a difference, but not a lot of difference.″ She said tips about double her minimum-wage pay at the Gingham Kitchen, a tiny neighborhood restaurant in Minneapolis.
Ms. Arndt also cautioned that a higher minimum might hurt. ″A lot of employers are stingy and they’ll try to get by with the least amount of workers. It will cause a situation in the workplace where the workers will be overworked and they’ll quit.″
Kate O’Donnell, 57, a sales clerk at Jenney Lee Bakery in downtown Pittsburgh, however, said the extra money could make a big difference to some.
″Who can live on $3.35 an hour?″ Ms. O’Donnell asked. ″Even a couple of bucks would make a big difference when you don’t have it. It all helps.″
In State College, Nancy Silks said she would have to close one of her three pet stores and reduce the staff at another if the raise went into effect. As canaries chirped in the background, Ms. Silks said, ″Ends are hard enough to meet as it is for a small business anyway.″
But Suzanne Gowan, manager of a Burger King restaurant in Newark, N.J., said a higher wage would limit turnover and attract older workers.
″We get applications from kids 15 and 16 years old, but we need 18-year- olds and older for the night crews,″ she said.
Vera Kelly, 49, of Queens, who works behind the lunch counter at Lamston’s, a five and ten cents store, in Manhattan, said even $4.55 ″still wouldn’t support a family. It should be even more than that.″
She doubted employers would be forced to lay off people if the minimum were raised.
″You got to have help,″ said Mrs. Kelley. ″You can’t cut back but so far.″