Update: Due to the snowstorm, the House Labor committee meeting has been cancelled. We will let you know when it has been rescheduled.
Update: RI Jobs with Justice is looking for people who work for minimum wages or as a server to testify at the hearing.
PM Michael Araujo or Call (401) 952-0031.
Raising the minimum wage is one of the most effective ways to improve the economy and combat poverty. It gets more money into the hands of the people who need it and the money injected is almost always immediately spent, which is stimulative. Massachusetts raised their minimum wage to $11 this year and Connecticut is at $10.10. Rhode Island declined to raise the minimum wage this year, leaving it the lowest at $9.60.
This week the State House takes up several measures to increase the minimum wage, with hearings on Tuesday and Thursday. Here’s a rundown:
On Tuesday House Finance takes up Governor Gina Raimondo‘s budget article 20 to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 on October 1. The meeting will be in room 35 at the Rise (around 4:30). There will most likely be a push to lower the increase (to match Connecticut at $10.10, for instance) and to delay the increase (to January 1, 2018). People testifying should be prepared to defend both the rate and the date.
On Thursday House Labor, meeting in the House Lounge (located behind the House Chamber and scheduled at the Rise (around 4:30)) will take up two minimum wage bills and a tip protection bill that deserves support.
The first minimum wage bill (H5057) is similar to the Governor’s proposal in that it increases the wage to $10.50, but the increase will go into effect on July 1, three months earlier than the governor’s proposal. This is good for minimum wage workers and gets more money into the economy earlier.
The second bill (H5315) raises the minimum wage for tipped workers by fifty cents per year commencing on January 1, 2018 until the tipped minimum wage is not less than two-thirds of the regular minimum wage. The current tipped minimum wage is $3.89 in Rhode Island. This wage was last raised in 2015 and was stagnant at $2.89 for decades before that.
The third bill being heard Thursday night is also a minimum wage bill of sorts. H5316 would prohibit employers from receiving any portion of the tips given by customers to their tipped employees with limited exceptions for credit card service charges. Many hotels and restaurants have policies in place that force tipped employees to hand some percentage of their tips to management. Though most people would consider such policies theft, the practice is not illegal. This bill would rectify that.
Those preparing to testify before House Labor should know that Representative Robert Craven, who chairs the committee, “requests that any witnesses providing written testimony provide 23 copies for committee use. Please mark the written testimony with the bill number.”
If you’re looking for good arguments in defense of increasing the minimum wage for your testimony, check out the following links: