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Push To Raise Minimum Wage Gains Momentum, New Goal $10.10

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Tom Jordan, a three-time Emmy award winning journalist, co-anchors...
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DETROIT (WWJ) – There’s been a change in a proposal to raise the minimum wage.

They received so much support for a wage increase from $7.40 an hour to $9.50 an hour, they decided to try for even more.

Frank Houston, treasurer of the Raise Michigan ballot committee and the director of the Restaurant Opportunity Center of Michigan , spoke with WWJ’s Tom Jordon about the initiative.

“So I think there was a desire to push the wage level a little bit higher to give more folks a chance to get into the middle-class, even the lower middle-class,” said Houston.

The “Raise Michigan” campaign has announced a new number for minimum wage: $10.10 an hour.

The new proposal would be implemented over a several year period, reaching $10.10 by January of 2017 if it’s approved.

The Michigan Board of Canvassers will review the petition Wednesday.

Republicans have said hiking the minimum wage would hurt employers’ ability to hire people. The restaurant industry says it already operates on thin margins and argues sharply higher wages would lead to steeper prices.

“If Michigan increases the cost of employing entry-level workers, lower-skilled workers will see less job opportunities because employers will be forced to hire higher-skilled job applicants to fill multiple roles or cut jobs to absorb the costs associated with the increase,” said Wendy Block, director of health policy and human resources for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The group said businesses already are grappling with costs associated with the federal health care law and that government should focus  on helping people get jobs, not make it more expensive to hire them.

“People who work hard, shouldn’t have to wait for out of touch politicians to act and do the right thing – and raise the minimum wage,” said Rebecca Hatley-Watkins, 23, of Kalamazoo, who is married, the mother of one and a Michigan United member. “If you work full-time you shouldn’t live in poverty.”

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