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Business & Economy

Campaign to raise Ohio's minimum wage to $15 an hour kicks off with signature gathering effort

FILE - Activists appeal for a $15 minimum wage near the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the federal minimum wage in 2021 was worth 34% less than in 1968, when its purchasing power peaked. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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FILE - Activists appeal for a $15 minimum wage near the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the federal minimum wage in 2021 was worth 34% less than in 1968, when its purchasing power peaked. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Raise the Wage Ohio Coalition kicked off its signature gathering effort Monday afternoon at the Statehouse, with a goal of increasing the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The group aims to get a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2024 ballot. If passed, it would increase the state’s minimum wage to $12.75 an hour starting in 2025 and it would rise to $15 an hour by 2026.

Ohio's minimum wage now stands at $10.10 per hour for non-tipped employees and $5.05 per hour for tipped employees. The proposed amendment would also increase tipped wages to the full minimum wage.

The amendment would change an Ohio law that allows employers to pay people with mental or physical disabilities and people under age 16 less than the state minimum wage.

The group needs to gather over 413,000 signatures by July 2024 to get the ballot initiative before voters. The ballot language cleared other hurdles recently, including getting approval by the Ohio Attorney General and the Ohio Ballot Board this month to gather signatures for the ballot initiative as one issue, rather than separate issues.

The coalition is led by One Fair Wage, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, SEIU OH and OH Policy Matters. Democratic State Rep. Elliott Forhan of South Euclid and restaurant workers will also be at the Statehouse to announce the public launch of signature gathering.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is among the opponents of this proposed constitutional amendment.

Ohio Chamber CEO Steve Stivers, a former Republican Congressman from Upper Arlington, said in a statement last week that the amendment is ill-advised, economically detrimental and would be hard to reverse if it passes.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.