Scott: Back in 1996, when many of you seniors were born, two of the biggest movies in theaters were Independence Day and Jerry Maguire, and the minimum wage someone could be paid was $4.75 an hour. Now you fast-forward to today, and minimum wage has gone up almost $3. But it still has some people saying show me the money!
Demetrius: Jhordi Fernandez is a college student and also works at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. He makes minimum wage cleaning and restocking planes between flights.
On January 1st, New York was among thirteen states to increase minimum wage to higher than the federal requirement of $7.25 an hour. Minimum wage is the lowest amount of money that can be paid to a worker. Jhordi now makes $8 an hour.
Jhordi Fernandez: This raise, it will help out a little, but not really because right now, just by the thin of the line, I’m making it.
Demetrius: Thousands of workers across the country feel the same way. Last month, union groups helped organize protests among fast food workers who believe the nationwide minimum should be higher. President Obama agrees and wants to raise it to just over $10 an hour.
President Obama: While Congress decides whether it is going to raise the minimum wage or not, people outside of Washington are not waiting for Congress. And I’m not either.
Demetrius: The president is traveling the country promoting the increase in federal minimum wage. He is planning to sign an executive order, power given only to the president, to raise the federal minimum wage without going through the normal lawmaking process in Congress.
For now, that order is only going to affect people that work for the federal government. The president hopes that Congress will eventually agree to pass a bill that will raise wages for all workers. But many business owners that pay minimum wage are pushing back.
Don Davey is a former NFL player who now owns thirteen fast food restaurants in Florida called Firehouse Subs. He pays most employees about $8 an hour but says a jump to $10 could force him to raise prices and cut jobs.
Don Davey: Now, that’s a 25% increase in our labor cost. In some of our stores we’d be faced with a tough decision. We may have to close some locations. There would be 15 people that would be laid off immediately if we close one of our stores.
Demetrius: The National Restaurant Association also opposes the president’s plan to increase wages, saying it will hurt businesses. Many Republicans in Congress agree and say they will vote against it.
Demetrius Pipkin, Channel One News.