Minimum wage hike divides workers

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Not lovin’ it: McDonalds workers serve lunch to hungry West Side students. The restaurant chain has been at the center of the minimum wage debate.

Last February, President Barack Obama initiated a movement to raise the minimum wage to nine dollars an hour. This is a large increase for 49 states, including Indiana. Washington is currently the only state with a minimum wage that is nine dollars or higher; their requirement is $9.19 an hour.

The goal of such an increase would be to ensure that minimum wage workers can meet their basic needs on their lower salaries. Businesses within Indiana have a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the same as the requirement for national companies.

“For me, a higher wage would just be more more money that I can save,” said Abbee Westbrook ’15. “[It] would make me more self-sufficient sooner, which makes me happier because I wouldn’t have to rely on my parents for money and things when I’m older.”

Westbrook works at Pappy’s in the Purdue Memorial Union. She thought that raising the minimum wage would enact positive change. The increase to nine dollars could have the potential to decrease unemployment. Westbrook emphasized, however, that working for Purdue was substantially different from working for a corporation or small business. Large franchises are more likely to be able to afford a pay raise while “mom ‘n pop” stores could potentially struggle.

“Raising [the minimum wage] would really help some of the people I work with support their families,” said Summer Adams ’14, who works at McDonald’s.

Adams criticized the current minimum wage, which she said limited the ability of workers to provide for themselves and their children. She thought that McDonald’s can and should pay their workers more money per hour.

“I work with a lot of single parents who can’t get other jobs. Most jobs require more education, so they end up working minimum wage and they don’t have the time or money to further their education,” said Adams.

Sam Porterfield ’15 works at Walgreens and admits that although he probably couldn’t live off his salary, he doubted the ability of his employer to increase his wages. He thought that such an increase would be impossible for smaller businesses.

“They couldn’t afford to pay you more,” he said. ¬†Porterfield instead supported tax exemptions for minimum wage worker to offset their small incomes.

Raising the federal minimum wage to nine dollars an hour would certainly have immediate benefits for workers, but the practicality of such a mandate would vary from employer to employer.

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