California, New York raise minimum wage to $15

The governors of California and New York on April 4 signed into law new minimum wage bills that will raise the minimum wage for most workers in their states to $15 an hour.

The new laws raise the minimum wage in increments.

In California, the minimum wage reaches $15 an hour for most workers by 2022.

New York adopted a two-tier approach that raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour in New York City by 2018. Workers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, all suburbs of New York City, will see their minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by the end of 2021.

Wages for those living in other New York counties will top out at $12.50 an hour by 2020. After that, the state’s labor commission will periodically adjust the minimum wage for workers in those counties as the cost of living increases.

In California, hundreds of low-wage workers demonstrated at the state Capitol on March 31, the day that the state’s General Assembly was preparing to vote on SB 3, the bill that California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on April 4.

The demonstration underscored the worker activism that made a $15 minimum wage a reality.

“Wages didn’t get raised until workers raised their voices,” said Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU California and SEIU Local 2015 at the Mach 31 demonstration. “The credit for making history today belongs to the workers who spoke out and risked it all, the labor unions and community organizations who supported them, and elected leaders here in California who listened. As a result, millions of Californians are on the path out of poverty.”

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the new minimum wage law at a rally sponsored by New York’s labor unions.

When he signed the new minimum wage law, he also signed a new law that provides paid family leave benefits for workers.

In 2018, when the law becomes effective, New York workers will be eligible for eight weeks of paid leave equal to one-half of current salary to care for a newborn baby or a family member who becomes severely ill. The number of paid leave weeks increases to 12 by 2021.

The movement for a $15 minimum wage began just three years ago in New York City when 200 fast food and other underpaid workers went on strike for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

In the early stages of the movement, the demand for such a big increase was dismissed as unrealistic.

But the voices of workers in the streets made the demand difficult to ignore, and cities such as Seattle and San Francisco passed ordinances that phased in a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Critics, however, continue to criticize the new minimum wage laws as job killers.

After California and New York passed their $15 a minimum wage laws, a columnist for Forbes magazine called the new laws “a booby prize” for workers because the job losses caused by higher wages will offset their benefits.

Lawrence Michel and David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute, however, disagree. They call the new wage laws, “bold” and “exactly what we need.”

“Simply put, a bold effort is needed to make up for the lost decades in which the minimum wage was simply eroded by inflation or was increased only modestly,” write Michel and Cooper.

They note that some job losses can be expected due to the increased minimum wage but that the total number of work hours won’t be affected. As a result, those who lose jobs should be able to find new jobs that pay the new higher minimum wage.

“Raising the minimum wage to $15  will significantly boost the overall income going to low-wage workers and their families,” write Michel and Cooper.

A report by the University of California Berkeley Labor Center finds that a big increase to the minimum wage helps underpaid workers significantly and can improve the overall economy.

According to the report, “Higher wages will be absorbed by employers through reduced turnover, improved productivity, and small price increases,” which will be offset by “the increased sales generated by low-wage workers who receive raises.”

Experts are studying the real impact of significantly raising the minimum wage on Seattle, whose minimum wage ordinance became effective more than a year ago.

According to the professor leading the study, “the sky is not falling” because of the new ordinance. “If it was really bad (as some predicted), a lot of people would have lost their jobs and every opening would get tons of applicants. That is not happening,” said Jacob Vigdor to the Seattle Times.

Vigdor is the Daniel J. Evans professor of Public Policy and Governance at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington.

The Times also reported on the impact that the new ordinance is having on low-wage workers. The response of one of those interviewed was poignant.

“I don’t have to struggle as much,” said a store clerk whose wage just increased to $13 an hour to the Times reporter.


Gov. Brown announces agreement to raise California minimum wage to $15 an hour

California Governor Jerry Brown, leaders of the state legislature, and union leaders on March 28 announced an agreement that when enacted and signed by Gov. Brown will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

The agreement is the biggest success so far for the Fight for $15 movement that started three years ago with strikes by fast food and other under paid workers.

“Make no mistake,” reads a posting of the Fight for $15 Facebook page. “Workers striking, protesting, fighting back, and taking part in the #FightFor15 are the reason that California agreed to a $15 minimum.”

The Fight for $15 movement started in 2012 in New York when after Thanksgiving, 200 fast food workers went on strike for minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Over the next three years, the movement spread to the Midwest and West Coast as thousands of under paid workers went on coordinated one-day strikes, held rallies and demonstrations, and took other street actions to make their voices heard.

In California, these street actions led to political organizing that succeeded in getting a $15 an hour minimum wage ordinance passed in several California cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Labor unions played a key role in these local political organizing campaigns.

In 2015, unions set their sights on making $15 an hour the statewide minimum wage.

Two unions SEIU United Healthcare Workers West and SEIU California circulated petitions seeking to put a $15 an hour minimum wage referendum on the November ballot.

SEIU United Healthcare Workers West collected 600,000 on a referendum petition, and in March, the California Secretary of State certified the union’s initiative for a place on the November ballot.

SEIU California was still in the process of collecting signatures on its petition when Governor Brown announced the historic agreement.

Gov. Brown did not always support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but the street actions and the political organizing campaigns made the Fight for $15 a popular issue.

A poll conducted in 2015 found that 68 percent of those surveyed supported making the California minimum wage $15 an hour.

The agreement announced by Gov. Brown will raise the current state minimum wage of $10 an hour to $11 an hour in 2017. In 2018, there will be a $0.50 increase. Then the minimum wage will increase by $1 a year until 2021. In 2022 it becomes $15 an hour. After 2022, minimum wage increases will be tied to increases in the cost of living.

Business with 25 or fewer employees will have an extra year to begin paying at least $15 an hour.

The agreement also makes home health care workers eligible for paid sick leave. California has a state law that requires employers to provide employees with three paid sick days a year, but home health care workers had been excluded from this benefit.

The agreement between Gov. Brown and labor is only the first step toward passing a new minimum wage law.

The language in the agreement needs to be put in a bill and passed by both houses of the California legislature.

That could be accomplished by adding the agreement’s language to a bill that has already been introduced in the legislature.

That could happen within a week.

Leaders of both houses of the legislature have both signed off on the agreement, which make its passage easier.

There is a chance that business interest could try to derail the bill, but Gov. Brown warned them that doing so would be bad for business.

SEIU California estimates that one-third of California’s workers will receive wage increases because of the new minimum wage law.

“Combined with workers who are already on a path to $15 because workers fought to achieve $15 minimum wages in Los Angeles and San Francisco, more than 6.5 million workers will have won a path out of poverty with a $15 wage,” reads a statement released by SEIU California about the agreement.

Guadalupe Salazar, a McDonald’s worker active in the National Organizing Committee of Fight for $15 said that the success in California shows what can happen when workers unite and fight together.

“When workers in New York City started this movement in 2012, nobody gave them a shot, and when we joined in California a few months later, people said we had no chance,” said Salazar. “But today, millions of Californians secured life-changing raises that will lift our families out of poverty. And more victories are on the way across the country. Our movement has unstoppable momentum. When workers join together and speak out, real change results.”

Los Angeles raises minimum wage to $15 an hour

Los Angeles, the second largest city in the US, on May 19 passed a city ordinance that raises the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour.

The wage increase, which will be phased in over a five-year period, will affect more than 500,000 workers by 2017.

The City Council vote to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour was the result of a grassroots organizing effort by labor, community, and religious groups.

The Raise the Wage Coalition organized volunteers to canvass neighborhoods, make phone calls, hold in-home meetings, and participate in rallies to support the increased minimum wage.

Earlier this month, the coalition hand delivered to the City Council more than 100,000 pledge cards signed by workers supporting the minimum wage increase.

The coalition had originally sought to increase the minimum wage to $15.25 and to require employers to provide employees with paid sick days, but the new ordinance does not include paid sick days.

Nevertheless, leaders of the coalition were proud of the success of the movement for a higher minimum wage.

“We applaud this pivotal vote that raises the wage minimum wage to $15 an hour and enforces it,” said Laphonza Butler, a co-convener of Raise the Wage and president of SEIU California. “We believe that earned sick days are an important part of any comprehensive policy and are confident that after review, Los Angeles will join cities across the country and guarantee workers much-needed sick days.”

The May 19 vote formalizes the intent of the City Council to raise the minimum wage; the city’s general counsel will now draft the ordinance that implements the raise, which the City Council must approve before the increase becomes effective.

“We are one step closer to making history in Los Angeles by adopting a comprehensive minimum wage policy that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of hard-working Angelenos, said Rusty Hicks, the other co-convener and secretary treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “The City Council’s action today creates a path for workers to succeed and gives our economy the boost it needs to grow.”

The ordinance approved by the City Council phases in the minimum wage increase. In July 2016 the city minimum wage increases from $9 an hour to $10.50 an hour.

From then until 2020, the minimum wage increases every year until it reaches $15 an hour. After 2020, the minimum wage increases as the cost of living increases.

Most employers are covered by this schedule, but businesses employing 25 or fewer workers will have an extra year to comply.

A study of the impact of raising the minimum wage commissioned by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti estimates that about 567,000 workers – or 37 percent of workers covered by the policy – will receive a pay raise by 2017 increasing aggregate earnings by $1.8 billion.

Business groups opposing the wage increase warned that an increased minimum wage would result in fewer jobs for low-wage workers.

But the study said that extensive research shows that increasing the minimum wage increases the buying power of low-wage workers, stimulating the local economy and creating more jobs.

A higher minimum wage will also reduce turnover and increase productivity, which should help to hold down price increases that may result after wages increase.

There is concern that some low-wage businesses may relocate to suburbs of Los Angeles to avoid paying a living wage, which is why the Raise the Wage campaign is being expanded beyond the boundaries of city of Los Angeles.

The coalition is already asking the Los Angeles County Commissioners to consider an ordinance that will raise the minimum wage in unincorporated areas of the county to $15 an hour.

It also is organizing campaigns to raise the minimum wage in nearby suburbs such as Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Pasadena.

Anggie Godoy, a McDonald’s worker and activist in the Raise the Wage campaign told the Guardian that she plans to help in the campaign to extend the minimum increase beyond the boundaries of the city of Los Angeles.

“Just like they were here for me, I’ll be there for them,” said Godoy to the Guardian.

Government contract workers strike for a living wage and unionization of their jobs

Who employs the most low-wage workers in the US?

According to a report published by Demos, it’s the US government.

About 2 million workers, who provide services funded by the federal government either directly through outsourcing contracts or through grants and subsidies to companies that perform work for the government or the public, make $12 an hour or less.

About 500 of these workers on April 15 staged a one-day strike in Washington DC to demand better pay and the unionization of their jobs.

They were joined by another 500 supporters at a rally at the Capitol.

“(These workers) feed the generals in the Pentagon, they also personally serve US senators, some of whom are running to be the next president of the United States,” said Joseph Geevarghese of Good Jobs Nation, the organizer of the April 22 strike at the rally. “These workers strike because they want our nation to know that their taxpayer dollars are keeping everyday Americans in poverty.”

In addition to the Senate and Pentagon, striking workers work at the Department of Education, Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo, the Capitol Visitors Service, and for the National Park Services providing custodial, maintenance, food, transportation, and other services.

They work for companies such as Compass Global, an international outsourcing company, Sabree Environmental and Construction, Inc., which describes itself as “a full service provider and defense contractor with multifaceted capabilities,” and Open Top Sightseeing, owned by Big Bus Tours, another international company that provides bus sightseeing service all over the world.

The striking workers want President Obama to sign an executive order that will ensure that government contracts are awarded to companies that pay a living wage of at least $15 an hour, provide benefits, and respect collective bargaining rights. They’re calling their proposed executive order the Model Employer Executive Order.

One of the workers on strike is Bertrand Olotara, who wrote an opinion piece recently published in the Guardian.

“I am walking off my job because I want the presidential hopefuls to know that I live in poverty,” writes Olotara, who makes $12 an hour as a cook in the Senate office building.

Olotara has to work a second job and still has trouble making ends meet. He’s a single father and relies on food stamps to keep his children fed.

Olotara works for Compass Global.

Another worker who was on strike is Sonia Chavez who along with her husband cleans offices in the Education Department building.

Officially Chavez works for Ace Janitorial Services, but according to Good Jobs Nation, Ace is a front for the more high-profile Sabree Construction and Environmental.

Chavez, who is paid only $9.50 an hour, has charged Sabree with wage theft and she along with her co-workers are seeking $472,500 in back pay that they are owed.

“My husband and I are federal contract workers who clean the office of the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan,” said Chavez at a media conference. “The Secretary of Education likes to speak about a “Race to the Top” on education. But the truth is we also need a “Race to the Top” on wages.”

Providing services for the government hasn’t always been low-wage, low-benefit work.

Before the government began privatizing many of these services, some of the work paid decent wages, came with benefits, and allowed some workers to establish a toe hold in the middle class.

“Jobs that provided a path to the middle class for million in the past are now creating a vast army comprised of the working poor,” reads a report on government contract labor published by Good Jobs Nation.

Women and people of color have been especially hard hit since the government joined the race to the bottom.

According to Good Jobs Nation, 70 percent of the federal government’s contract workers are women and 45 percent are people of color.

74 percent of the government’s contract workers make $10 an hour or less, 60 percent receive no benefits, and 36 percent receive some form of public assistance.

“Our nation cannot boast of being the land of the free, while allowing companies to pay wages that enslave its citizens to debt, poverty, and an inability to provide a decent living for themselves, their children and generations to come,” said Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, director of public witness for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office, at the strike’s media conference.

“The US government should not be America’s biggest low wage job creator,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders at the media conference. Sanders went on to say that “if you work 40 hours a week, you should make enough to take care of your kids and your family.”

NYC hardhats join the Fight for $15 movement

Wearing hardhats showing their union stickers, construction workers on April 4 joined the Fight for $15 movement by marching in New York City with fast food and other low-wage workers to demand that the minimum wage be increased to $15 an hour.

Hardhats, fry cooks, wait staff, and others rallied in front of the headquarters of a New York City developer who plans to build New York’s newest skyscraper with non-union labor, then marched to a nearby McDonald’s where they entered the restaurant chanting, “Workers united will never be defeated.”

“All people deserve a living wage,” said Dennis Lee, a member of Laborers International Union of North America Local 79 to the New York Daily News while taking part in the demonstration. “All people deserve dignity and respect.”

McDonald’s, which last year reported net earnings of $4.76 billion, recently announced that it is raising the wages of some of its employees by $1 an hour.

But Fast Food Forward, which organized the April 4 demonstration, said that the raise will be given only to workers at restaurants directly owned by McDonald’s and not to those who work at the thousands of McDonald’s operated under a franchise agreement with the fast food giant.

Fast Food Forward also said that even with the $1 an hour pay increase McDonald’s still isn’t paying a living wage.

In an opinion piece appearing the Guaridan, Kwanza Brooks, a single mother and ten-year McDonald’s employee, said that the pay increase will mean that her wage rate increases from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 an hour.

“Now I’ll be trying to raise my kids on $8.25 on hour, said Brooks. “That’s still impossible! Let me be clear: raising wages only a little – and only for a small fraction of your 1.7 million workers – isn’t change. It’s a PR stunt.”

The April 4 demonstration was held to call attention to a one-day general strike of fast food and other low-wage workers that will be held in 200 US cities on April 15. Strikers will be demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Organizers of the general strike estimate that 60,000 people will participate in a local actions in 200 cities here in the US and that support demonstrations will take place in 35 other countries.

Fast food workers will be joined in the strike by other low-wage workers including retail clerks, home care and child care providers, university adjunct faculty and graduate students, and others.

The plight of these low-wage workers and the anxiety of construction workers fearing the encroachment of non-union contractors, which could mean the loss of their good paying jobs, is indicative of the reality faced by US workers–low-wage work is becoming the norm.

According to SEIU, another labor union supporting the Fight for $15 and the April 15 general strike, two-thirds of the households in the US earn less today than they did in 2002.

Jim Tankersley writing in the Washington Post says that worker pay in the 21st century isn’t growing like it once did.

“Women and minorities have lost all the progress they made in closing the median income gap with men,” writes Tankersley. “College graduates are doing better than anyone else, but income growth has stalled–or gone backwards–for all but the youngest workers.”

For years, technology has been cited as the main cause of wage stagnation, but Paul Krugman writes that that view no longer dominates the discourse on wage stagnation. Other factors, especially policy decisions, are now being seen as important causes of wage stagnation.

Two policy decisions have had the biggest impact on wages–the decision to keep the federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour and the decision to weaken labor unions.

A minimum wage increase would raise the floor on wages, helping more than just those making the minimum wage.

Stronger unions with more members would give workers more leverage to bargain for a greater share of the wealth that they create.

Strong unions have made construction work good paying work, but non-union construction work is often low-wage work.

James Krause, an iron worker and a supporter of the Fight for $15, told the Daily News that when  he was a non-union construction worker, he was only making $12 an hour.

Anthony Devarel, another union iron worker supporting the Fight for $15, told the Daily News the same thing and said that when he was a non-union construction worker, he couldn’t afford to pay his rent.

Today he’s ready and able to become a home owner.

The desire to build a bond between low-wage workers and construction workers is one reason that the organizers of the April 4 demonstration decided to start it at the headquarters of JDS Development.

JDS is planning to build an 80-story high rise in mid-Manhattan without union labor.

Union contractors in New York City do almost all of the work on big projects such as the one that JDS is undertaking.

JDS’ decision could be a forewarning of things to come. If big construction projects use less union labor, many union construction workers could end up working for $12 an hour again.

The decision to start the April 4 Fight for $15 demonstration at JDS headquarters and end it at McDonald’s is symbolic.

Both JDS and McDonald’s are players in corporate America’s race to the bottom for paying wages.

Both fast food workers and construction workers have a stake in ending this race to the bottom, and unity between the two groups is the only way to stop it and create more good paying jobs.

Seattle passes $15 minimum wage; supporters call for many more Seattles

Seattle’s City Council on June 2 approved an ordinance raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Some supporters of the increased minimum wage offered amendments that would have extended the minimum wage coverage and eliminated and/or shortened the phase-in time for the new minimum wage to become effective. The council voted down those amendments.

Early supporters of the $15 minimum wage expressed disappointment that the final version was watered down, but also pointed to the successful grassroots effort that will make Seattle the first city in the US to pay a minimum wage that comes close to being a livable wage.

The new minimum wage “is a testament to how working people can push back against the status quo of poverty, inequality, and injustice,” said City Council Member Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative. “The movement, starting with fast food workers nationwide, and pushed forward by (the union-backed ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Seattle’s suburb) SeaTac and 15 Now, is forcing business and the political establishment to accept raising our wages.”

The final version of the new minimum wage initiative is the product of Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Commission, which included representatives of business, labor, and non-profit organizations.

But the push for a $15 an hour minimum wage began last year when Sawant while running for a seat on the City Council made raising the minimum wage the centerpiece of her campaign.

Her election showed that there was strong support among voters for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Shortly after her election victory, a grassroots organization, 15 Now, was organized to build a movement for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

15 Now canvassed neighborhoods, held rallies, and overcame a stealth campaign by restaurant and bar owners to torpedo the minimum wage increase.

The final version of the new minimum wage ordinance fell short of 15 Now’s original proposal.

The version passed by the City Council gives companies with 500 or more employees three years to reach $15 an hour. Those that provide health care benefits to employees have four years to reach $15.

On the positive side, all franchises of major chains such as McDonald’s will be covered even if they don’t employ 500 people locally.

Small businesses will have seven years to get to $15 an hour.

The final version also had a tip credit, which lowers the minimum wage for tipped workers. It also allows companies to pay young people and disabled workers a training wage less than the minimum wage.

The original 15 Now proposal would have had no phase-in period for big businesses.

” McDonald’s and Starbucks have no justification for keeping their workers in poverty for a day longer,” said Sawant.

Small businesses will have had three years to reach the new minimum wage.

There would have been no tip credit and no so-called training wage.

Despite what Sawant calls loopholes that watered down the ordinance, Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance is historic. At a time when wealth is steadily being transferred from the working class to the richest segment of the ruling class, the Seattle ordinance goes against this trend.

When the minimum wage becomes fully effective, 100,000 low wage workers will be lifted out of poverty, said Sawant. “Nearly $3 billion will be transferred to workers at the bottom of the wage scale over the next ten years.”

Jess Spear of 15 Now said that the victory in Seattle would not have been possible without the work and energy of low-wage workers across the US. The fast food strikes, the actions by Walmart workers, the growing national movement for a $15 an hour minimum wage laid the foundation for the success in Seattle, which in turn should be the next step toward building a stronger national movement for decent minimum wage.

“Our success here today reveals he potential to build 15 Now all across the US,” said Spear. “I urge each and every one of you to get organized and help us strengthen our movement.”

After worker action at McDonald’s headquarters, $15 minimum wage ordinance introduced in Chicago

A week after thousands of fast food workers and their supporters demanding a minimum wage increase stormed the McDonald’s headquarters in a Chicago suburb, a group of Chicago alderman introduced an ordinance that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15.

Chicago becomes the third city to consider raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A committee of the Seattle City Council has approved a $15 wage increase and the full City Council will vote on the ordinance on June 2. San Francisco is also considering raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The introduction of the $15 minimum wage ordinance in Chicago was the result of a grassroots organizing effort that has been underway in Chicago for some time now.

The success of that effort was on display last week when more that 2,000 McDonald’s workers and their supporters showed up near the McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, 19 miles from downtown Chicago.

The demonstrators, 325 of whom were wearing their McDonald’s uniforms, carried signs reading, “We Are Worth More” and “My Union My Voice.”

McDonald’s with a low wage work force of nearly 860,000 is the third largest low wage employer in the US.

The average wage of a McDonald’s restaurant worker is $7.73 an hour. The average wage for a McDonald’s chief executive is $9,200 an hour.

The demonstrators said that they were at the McDonald’s headquarters just ahead of the annual board meeting because they were  frustrated by McDonald’s reluctance to address the poverty wages that it pays most of it workers.

“As workers, we went on strike, we talked to other workers, we’ve had petitions signings,” said Janah Bailey, a McDonald’s workers, to Chicago’s Channel 7 News. “We’ve done all we can; we requested meetings with the general managers. My presence today is saying that I’m willing to take it up a notch.”

The demonstrators then marched onto the McDonald’s campus where they were met by police in riot gear.

After the police tried to get demonstrators to leave, 130 were arrested for criminal trespass.

More than 100 of those arrested were McDonald’s workers.

Their supporters included clergy and trade unionists.

Some of those supporters including Mary Kay Henry, President of SEIU, and William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP and the state’s Moral Majority Movement, were also arrested.

“I was arrested because I want McDonald’s workers to know that 2.1 million members of SEIU — home care workers, child care workers, adjunct professors, security officers, hospital workers and many others — proudly stand with them,” said Henry in a statement about her arrest.

Earlier in May,  Chicago fast food workers joined other fast food workers in 150 US cities in a one-day strike demanding that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.

The actions at McDonald’s headquarters, the strikes, and other work done by fast food workers and their supporters caught the attention of nine Chicago alderman who announced on May 28 that they had filed an ordinance raising the Chicago minimum wage.

The proposed ordinance would require companies whose annual revenue exceeds $50 million to pay at least $12.50 an hour and within a year raise their wages to at least $15 an hour.

Small and medium-sized businesses would have more time to meet the $15 an hour minimum.

Alderman Joe Moreno told the Chicago Sun Times that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would increase Chicago business activity by $616 million and create 5,350 jobs.

Businesses were quick to express their opposition to raising the minimum wage arguing that increasing wages would hurt business.

Moreno said that when the minimum wage has been raised in the past it always helps the broader economy.

“It’s gonna hurt the people at the top possibly. It’s not gonna hurt business. It never has,” said Moreno to the Chicago Sun Times. “Raising the minimum wage in the United States has never, ever hurt the broader economy. . . . Our economy has been splintered with those at the top having way more. The middle class is shrinking. We want the middle class to grow.”