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Group Advocates for $12 Minimum Wage in Ohio


Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has approved language for a ballot initiative that seeks to raise the minimum wage in Ohio.  If approved by voters, the minimum wage would climb from the current $8.10 an hour to $12 an hour.  The increase would be phased in over time reaching the $12 mark by 2021.  Laurie Couch speaks for Stand Up For Ohio, the group that’s backing the increase.

The below transcript is an automated transcript of the above conversation. Please excuse minor typos and errors.

Laurie Couch: Stand Up For Ohio is committed to winning a living wage in Ohio, and we're exploring a number of possibilities for getting that done. One of which would be a statewide minimum wage increase through a ballot initiative.

We are interested in pursuing this because too many Ohioans are living in poverty. Too many families are having to work to two and three jobs just to make ends meet and we think that the majority of Ohioans are ready for the minimum wage to be a living wage.

Sam Hendren: What kinds of comments do you hear from people who are living on the minimum wage now are they making people are making it?

LC: People are making it just barely. People are making it by sacrificing time with their children so that they can work a second or third job. People are making it by skipping meals, and we don't think that that's the right way for working people to be making it.

SH: You said that you're seeking it through a ballot initiative. Why the ballot is not through the legislature?

LC: We think that Ohioians deserve an up or down vote on this issue. However we are looking into other possibilities, such as local measures to get this passed. Looking at raising wages in Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

We're sort of in the beginning stages of exploring the options here for getting this done, but what we do know is that polling shows Ohioans are ready for a higher wage. It would jump to $10 an hour in 2017 followed by step increases of 50 cents an hour each year after that.

SH: Can small businesses afford a minimum wage increase?

LC: We believe that small business can support a minimum wage increase. We've seen in states across the country small businesses are supporting minimum wage increases. It actually doesn't tend to be small businesses on the whole that pay the lowest wages, that tends to be the big box stores. The larger employers with larger profit margins tend to be the one paying minimum wage, and we know that they can afford a minimum wage increase.

SH: The economy is improving, do you think that would make a minimum wage more accessible?

LC: I think the economy is improving, but what's interesting is we're seeing even as unemployment goes down and in Ohio we've seen on employment go down. Poverty is still rising, and that's because though people are employed the jobs that are being created do not pay a living wage. That's why people need to work two and three of them just to make ends meet.

This proposal would raise wages for more than 1.14 million Ohio workers. That would include one in four women and nearly one in three African-American workers in Ohio. So that shows it would lift families across the state out of poverty and in the middle class, which would be the goal.