Wage increase on hold

Locals weigh in on underpaid workers

Ashley Montgomery | 5/8/2014, 9 a.m.

President Barack Obama is continuing his efforts to persuade Congress to pass laws for higher minimum wage despite the Senate Republicans blocking a vote on the issue.

Last Wednesday, the Democratic-supported bill was met with a host of Republican opposition in the Senate where it failed to get the 60 votes needed to move forward.

If passed, The bill would have raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour over the next 30 months. It failed by a margin of 54-42.

More than 1 million Florida workers would benefit greatly from the increase. Florida is second only to Texas in employees earning the minimum wage. Miami, known for its heavy tourism and busy residents, would also be impacted by a higher wage.

House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan of Wisconsin argues that hundreds of billions of dollars of government spending a year may have made poverty easier and comfortable to millions of Americans.

Conservatives also argue the government hasn’t done much to limit its reach.

But Obama believes that a higher minimum wage would reward hard-working Americans.

Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made a bold statement in defense of those making under $10.10.

“They’re fighting for the billionaires, we’re fighting for people who are struggling to make a living,” Reid said.

Critics say a higher minimum wage will push employers to hire fewer workers or reduce their hours.

“I believe that the minimum wage should be increased because what some hard-workers are making now is simply not enough to even survive on a daily basis,” Flossie Simon, 24, said.

The federal minimum wage has increased 22 times since it was first implemented in 1938.

“As a recent college graduate, it is a scary thought to know that I could possibly not have enough to get by out in the real world,” said Joshua Eppinger, 23, a University of Miami student. “The best way to solve this epidemic, in my opinion, is to increase wages so that people can live a less stressful lifestyle.”

A recent study by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics show that despite improved living standards, the poor have fallen further behind the middle class and the affluent in both income and consumption.

“The cost of many services have soared for education, child care and health care and have plummeted for television, toys and phones, relative to other prices,” the report states.

Last Friday, Seattle announced that it would soon have the nation’s highest minimum wage. Mayor Ed Murray unveiled his proposal for $15 minimum wage, a plan he said has much support across the local government, business and labor communities.

Tammie Hagen-Noey, a 49-year-old from Richmond, Va. told The New York Times that every cent she earns goes towards what she needs. She currently works at McDonald’s where she earns $7.25 an hour. Hagen-Noey says that she had to sell her car for $500 to make rent. President Obama wants no American to be in that situation.

“If your member of Congress doesn’t support raising the minimum wage, you gotta let them know they’re out of step and if they keep putting politics ahead of working Americans, you’ll put them out of office,” Obama said.

To drum up support for minimum wage on social media, The White House introduced the new Twitter hashtag #1010means. Minimum wage workers are encouraged to use this hashtag daily so that their voices may be heard.