Associations Stand on Both Sides of the Minimum Wage Debate

As a measure to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour was blocked in the Senate last week, associations on both sides of the debate continue to make their case for and against a minimum wage increase.

The closer the calendar inches to November and midterm elections, the less likely it seems that major legislation will be passed on any of the hot-button issues circulating around Capitol Hill. That includes the minimum wage debate, which saw a bill defeated in the Senate last week.

However, the highly partisan politicking hasn’t stopped advocacy groups from working to bolster their positions, both for and against a minimum wage increase.

In a strong statement last week, the board of directors for nonprofit leadership group Independent Sector called on all nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to pledge to pay a “living wage” to all employees.

“[I]ndividuals should have the opportunity to earn a life-sustaining wage that enables them to support themselves and their families. The current federal minimum wage does not do that,” the IS board said. “We believe that charitable organizations should be guided by the balanced approach of advancing their missions effectively while striving to pay wages that allow employees to provide adequately for their families, and we therefore support increasing the minimum wage.”

IS did acknowledge that many charitable organizations employ seasonal, part-time, and youth employees and suggested that those positions be exempt from the minimum wage increase.

Business Owners for a Fair Minimum Wage, a national network of business owners and executives, echoed IS’s sentiments in a statement that criticized the Senate for failing to pass the proposed minimum wage bill.

“The current minimum wage is hurting business and our economy,” said Holly Sklar, the organization’s director. “We cannot build a strong economy on a falling wage floor. Today’s $7.25 minimum wage has less buying power than it had in 1950 and a third less than in 1968, adjusted for inflation. Workers are also consumers, and businesses need customers who can afford their products. That’s what drives job creation.”

Meanwhile, a report from the Employment Policies Institute, which the group is pushing out through a new ad campaign, argued that a $10.10 minimum wage would result in 1 million lost jobs, citing data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

“The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed what economists have been saying for decades: Wage hikes cost jobs,” Michael Saltsman, EPI’s research director, said in a statement. “Instead of creating more barriers to entry-level employment, Congress should instead focus on policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit that can actually help those most in need.”

Members of the service industry, including the National Retail Federation, the International Franchise Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, and the National Restaurant Association all had representatives on the Hill to lobby against an increased minimum wage.

“We’re coming off a fragile recovery, and we still have not seen the full effects of the Affordable Care Act on our industry,” Delaware Restaurant Association CEO Carrie Leishman said in an NRA statement. “Legislators want to see something because they see the federal push, but they also have to answer to their constituents. In Delaware, we were able to work with our legislators at crafting something more palatable for industry.”


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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